Reflections on Rejection

One of the strangest life lessons I’ve learned about romance and dating is that while connection is always personal, and about both people involved, rejection is often not personal, and has very little to do with the person being rejected.

Picture a picnic. Connection is about what both of you bring to the table, and having it clicking to a degree. Rejection is about what each of you wants the other person to bring; each of you could have brought abundantly lovely picnic baskets with enough similar and different things. You could be more satisfied with their picnic basket than they are with yours. Maybe they really wanted you to bring wine. Maybe they really wanted you to bring biscuits. Maybe they enjoyed your picnic basket, but not…enough to continue having picnics with you. Maybe they can’t even really explain what it is they wanted you to bring – they just know it wasn’t there. This is not a negative remark on your picnic basket. Do you like your picnic basket? Ultimately, that’s what you take back at the end of the day: your own picnic basket. You can of course modify and add and remove things from your basket. So can they. And just as they are selective about which picnic baskets they want a picnic with, you should also be selective about what you want from other picnic baskets for what works for your life.

Rejection is about how the person doing the rejecting envisions their life and who fits into it and who doesn’t. Nothing about this is necessarily an insult to the person being rejected.

Pitfalls
You feel other people’s picnic basket is better than yours, especially when you like picnics with them.
This means probably a combination of 2 things: a) you want something in your picnic basket you see in theirs – so just incorporate it. Go home and find what you want and add it to your basket. This could be something you admire like “Self discipline” or “meditation/spiritual grounding” or “creativity”. Whatever it is, go add it. b) You, for some reason, just don’t value or accept your own picnic basket. Try to do (a) as much as you can and then if it still isn’t working, it’s time to just have lots of picnics on your own, with your basket, and see if you can learn to appreciate it

You never feel like having a picnic with people in the long term (ie: you never are connecting for a long enough time)
This probably means you have highly specific criteria about what you want in other people’s picnic basket – not just wine, but a specific type, year, place. This also could mean that you are highly satisfied with your own basket, and just have trouble with sharing – which is ok too! Try to loosen up your criteria a bit, especially if you like having a picnic with someone a few times.

People keep saying “no, thanks” to your picnic basket.
ie: you experience chronic rejection. This is a hard and difficult position to be in. It will make you question the contents of your picnic basket and that’s ok – so long as you do it compassionately and kindly (easier said than done). Maybe things need to be moved around. But also just as likely: many people whose company you enjoyed and valued saying “no thanks” to you has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with them and their vision of who they want to share their life with on an intimate level. The question you might want to ask is what is it about these baskets that you enjoy – note I said, basket (ie, their life, values, things they’re bringing to the table) and not PERSON. Because here’s the thing, if there is nothing there that you can pick out specifically in their basket, you are drawn to emotionally avoidant people on a consistent basis. Even if you can pick out specifically great qualities, know that you can find those qualities in other people too.

You are not prepared to hear “no, thanks” to your picnic basket.
No picnics for you. Whatever the reason, if you are in this position, either because you feel entitled to picnics with everyone you choose, or because people have said “no, thanks” to your picnic basket so often that you are just processing what that means for you and your life, going on picnics will be painful hands down (and can be manipulative, if you start demanding the other person accept your basket) . To experience authentic connection, you have to risk experiencing rejection – and to risk rejection means to have a healthy understanding of your own unique picnic basket, being comfortable with what you bring to the table, knowing that if it’s not wanted is not a reflection of your basket…but of the other person’s unique requirements for what they want at a picnic (ie: a shared life/partnership).

You are very concerned about how much they enjoy your picnic basket and have little regard as to if you are enjoying theirs.
Again, this is not about *the person*. This is about compatibility. This is about their life. No matter how good the chemistry is, if they have plans for their life that you do not fit into, it’s not going to work. Your chemistry and love or potential love will not make up for lack of similar values, life goals, life paths, family structures, etc. You must see if their picnic basket actually matches with yours, and if you have little regard for this, you will find yourself in a partnership that may feel amazing at times and absolutely satisfying, but in a life that is not.  You cannot simply tolerate their basket: you have to be able to enjoy it.

*Caveat: it requires an unbelievable amount of unconditional love to make two incompatible baskets work that most people will not be able to do – even if you think you can, the other person may not. Even if you think you can make it work, you might be wrong.

Last Thoughts
And finally, even if picnics end… or you only go on a few picnics, if they were good, they were good. You didn’t miss anything. If someone says “no thanks” to more picnics, try not to question the worth of previous picnics with the person: they could have been great. Them not wanting your basket doesn’t mean your basket is not wanted or can never be wanted.

The most important thing? You have to want your basket. Period. Your picnic basket is not just what you offer to partners, it’s your life and all its contents. And if you don’t want your basket right now, that’s something to think about, work on, figure out. 

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8 Reasons To Not Be Friends With An Ex

“You’ve got to learn to leave the table/When love’s no longer being served” – Nina Simone

“Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready.” – Nayyirah Waheed

Context: The Dumper wants friendship, nothing awful happened during the course of dating, ie: no cheating, no awful fights, no nothing. one person just went “nope, not this, but let’s be friends” except less glibly and actually seems to mean it. The “you” in this article is The Dumpee and no this is not one of those awful “how to get your ex back” nonsense bullshit articles (*vomit forever*).

This article is definitely for losers like the author who had to figure this out the hard way, because the author tends to be someone who always always does things the hardest possible way ever. Come, gather, losers.

1. Staying in touch prolongs your pain, healing time, and is unfair to you.
Even if you can be friends, switching off feelings is a hard process, and the person you were most vulnerable around can no longer support your vulnerability – not only that but the new friendship you have with them requires a lesser degree of vulnerability – how much lesser? no idea. Maybe you’re the type of person who loves so strongly that staying in touch right away may be something you *can* do, with great effort, but *should* you do it? Is it a choice that is *fair* to your healing process? Do you owe the connection between you two and this person that much effort and compassion and love to continue a friendship at the cost of your own pain? If you’re like me, you find it hard to prioritise justice, especially to yourself, over love, especially your love for others. But this needs to be like a life rule for people to drill into our heads:  actions which prioritise justice for myself > actions which priorotise my love for other people

2 They chose a life without you; let them know what that feels like.
A breakup is a breakup. It is an ending. The whys and hows may be varied, but at the end of the day it boils down to a plain and simple truth: one person chose a life without the other person in it. And that’s it. It may be because you didn’t fit into other parts of their life, and they valued the rest of their life (which is totally fair). It may be because they just don’t like you as much as you like them – their feelings have gone or they could not see their feelings growing. It may because they have commitment issues, which is a relief in a way because it’s definitely not you then – it’s them. It could be for literally any reason under the sun, but it doesn’t change the choice that was made. Does this mean that the relationship wasn’t meaningful? No. But it does mean that if it was that meaningful, precious, and good, the other person would have also made a choice to continue it. And therefore: it wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

3. You are not here to assuage someone else’s guilt, or to be the vessel for someone else’s pity.
To be fair, a kind-hearted dumper has good intentions with friendship and means it – they are not necessarily doing it from a place of guilt or pity: they genuinely do value you in their lives and see your friendship as meaningful. There are other people though who will dump you, and then want to stay in touch out of guilt, or because they feel sorry for you. Here’s the thing though: regardless of the intentions of the dumper, sticking around makes them feel less bad about the break-up, and lets them move on faster. See point 1: it also slows down your healing time. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should say no to a friendship in order to make a dumper feel guilty or sad or bad – it just means that you don’t owe it to them to stick around.

4. But the connection was really good…
Answer A: If it was that good for them, they’d have stuck around. They didn’t. Maybe it was a connection that felt real and good for you that really didn’t feel that way to them. It was great for you, not so much for them – something to work on in future relationships maybe if you have the nagging feelings that you are constantly in one-sided relationships.

Answer B: Maybe it really was a significantly good connection that can translate to a new friendship later on down the line – but friendship right away is not necessary because…. why? Why is it necessary to be friends right away?  Yeah, actually,it really was a good thing. Still *buzzer sound* on friendship right away though. #Canceled

Answer C: No. It wasn’t. Not a good connection at all. You lied to yourself about how great it was, or you made up a story about how great it was, but ultimately, you deluded yourself, were in maybe a thing that was as bad for you as it was for the other person and you just…. didn’t even realise.  You are not good at telling if a connection was real, or meaningful – and this is something to work on for future relationships. How to work on this should be another article.

5. They had life stuff going on… that’s why we ended, doesn’t that make a difference? They still really care about me.
No. It makes zero difference. They chose the parts of their life that you don’t fit into, over the life with you in it. You may think you’re star crossed lovers, you may even have some real life Romeo/Juliet vibe, opposing clans/religions that grudgingly tolerate each other/countries that are not on the best of terms/families that hate each other – whatever: but hey, even in death,  Romeo and Juliet  chose each other. REPEATING FOR EMPHASIS: Key point: Romeo and Juliet chose each other. Did this person choose you? No? Your story is not that of star crossed lovers. Your story is not that of Romeo and Juliet. This person did not choose you. This person rejected you. Harsh, but true.

6. You are probably going to be a really shitty friend to them.
Think about it. What do friends do? Share their feelings, catch up, talk about things on their mind, things in their lives.  What is on your mind right now? Getting dumped. Being rejected. Is it useful to talk to the dumper about this particular phase of rejection, lack of self worth, etc, when they’re kinda intrinsically tied to it? How much vulnerability are you supposed to share anyway with an ex? As you rebuild yourself (and work out eventually how/if they even fit into your life anymore) you will either: be too warm/friendly, or be too cold to them. You will either: ask too much from them for support, or feel like you can never turn to them. You will want to support them, or not support them at all. You may feel everything from resentment, anger, hurt, shame, humiliation, and a complete disenchantment with whatever you had with them. How do you build a good friendship that is fair to them and their needs? Conversely, you may give too much from a place of love, affection and care, that is also unfair because you’re not their person anymore. That is not your role in their life. Unconditional love/caring is not what they want from you. So stop it. Ultimately, what do you have to offer them right now? Answer: probably nothing but your own snot-filled misery right now.

7. You do not have matching levels of the following equation which is essential for friendship, or indeed, any relationship. The following equation describes the instantaneous needs of each person’s needs in the relationship in terms of vulnerability and distance (emotional closeness, not like, “metres”). Yes I came up with it myself because I’m a silly nerd, aren’t I.

Person 1’s investment = Person’s 2 investment
vulnerability1 – distance1 = vulnerability2 – distance2

What this means is that ultimately, you need matching numbers on both sides for a friendship to stay on an even keel, stay balanced, stay fair to both people’s capacities to show care, hold space for vulnerability, and where distance in the relationship (usually through lack of communication/meetups) doesn’t necessarily hinder the relationship. Generally, the more distance there is, the less the person is invested in the relationship, but actually you can have some friendships where people are still very vulnerable with one another, are close friends, and talk like twice a year or something.Oh the other thing is that for any relationship to be balanced, the sides of this equation have to be balanced but for any relationship to be close  you need to have… uh positive/large “emotional units” or whatever it is we’re measuring this nonsense in. For example, if distance > vulnerability for both people significantly, then both people just stop giving a shit about the relationship – which is fine! it’s balanced in that the relationship doesn’t really exist.

After a breakup, the dumper is less vulnerable and likely also wants more distance – this has been their emotional state for a while now so their investment in the relationship drops.  But the other person is still emotionally exactly where they were 5 minutes (or ok fine, for slow healers, 5 months, 5 years, whatever the case is) before the breakup: high vulnerability, low distance. Until both sides of these equations balance, there is no chance of a balanced or healthy friendship.

Also note that the above equation does not describe changes in vulnerability or distance that can take place over time for both people.

8. But… they really mean it. They really want to be friends.
And, if you’re asking that after reading everything that came before, as gently as I can say it: So fucking what? Ok they mean it. So? Ok they care about you. So?
They still left. Besides, you really wanted something more…do you think they sat around and went “But… they really want a relationship” ? No. Because that’s not how relationships or friendships work. Neither is an obligation.

They care about you and you also care about them. Caring about someone doesn’t need to involve any presence in each other’s lives. You don’t have to hold a grudge but neither do you owe them friendship, especially not right away. And anyway, friendship isn’t about owing; it’s about wanting to be there in each other’s lives in a way that feels comfortable and good and genuine. If you don’t have these things naturally, it’s just not there. Call it what it is: the end of a relationship. If you need to close the door for now, do it. If you can envision reconnecting later when you are both different people, leave the door open a crack (some people have trouble with this; I used to and don’t anymore).

In Conclusion…
The next time someone I’ve invested in emotionally, romantically, breaks up with me, I know exactly what my response will be: I will pack my things as they are speaking. I will get up without a word. And I will leave them, mid-sentence. And the only point where I break my silence will be if they dare ask me “Wait – hey – where are you going?”, or “So you’re just going to leave?”  because then I will answer: “Me? You’re the one that left” and walk out the nearest door and also out of their lives. It doesn’t matter if this was a month long passionate affair, or years of dating.

New rule for the end of a relationship – UNLESS reconciliation/getting back together is on the table and both of you want that: These are the 3 things a breakup means:

1. This person did not choose you.
2. They owe you nothing anymore except a good closure, gentle/kind ending.
3. You owe them nothing from the minute they say “I don’t want to be with you anymore.” Nothing.

Look, bottom line: The next time someone tells you they don’t want to be with you, no matter how much you like them or love them or want this to work, you must get up from the table, pack your things, and leave. You don’t owe them an explanation. You don’t even owe them a goodbye. You owe yourself whatever you need, at whatever cost, to tend to your heart that has just been broken. You owe yourself the time to wade through the humiliation you may feel for thinking a connection meant more than it was, or to mourn a sincerely good connection that is now dead. You don’t need their explanations for closure – there is only one real explanation: “I am not choosing you.” There is no reason for the break-up other than the break up itself. You must make your own closure, live your own life, find and follow your dreams and passions. And if this person and you should meet again, and be friends down the line, so be it – and at that point, it will be a new thing, new people, with new stories and new ways of connecting.

The second conclusion, like LOTR, where everyone had to pee in the theatres but no one could and the eagle scene was like amazing but always reminds me of a full bladder ok:

Look, I still really care about my ex. That hasn’t changed. I think he cares about me too probably maybe I don’t know; he’s certainly never given me any reason to doubt his care for me. I do think he and I will be (could be?) friends down the line eventually probably maybe who knows really  i sure don’t do you does he nope no one knows and that’s actually ok (wow). I also think I could have been friends right away with him…with a lot of emotional effort on my part (because I’ve done it before with other people) but then I had to ask myself how fair that would have been to me. Answer: not fair at all. This ex also really supported me in the aftermath of the breakup but I also recognise that’s a bullshit thing for me to ask for from exes and really not my place to do that.When I finally said goodbye, I felt relieved, and able to focus on myself in a very real way. I also felt relieved that I wouldn’t be over-demanding from him, especially on days when I was miserable.

So I’m sincere, and not bitter, by ending off on this lovely Nayyirah Waheed poem:


“you

not wanting me
was
the beginning of me
wanting myself
thank you”
-Nayyirah Waheed
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The Bird and the Tree

“Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul there is no such thing as separation.”- Rumi

Once upon a time there was a sturdy tree with sturdy branches. Birds tried to land on the tree; he looked so inviting after all. But each time a bird tried to land, the tree said “No, not yet! I am still growing.”

And the birds said, “But your branches look so solid and so firm. And your roots go deep. and you seem like a good place for me to build a nest. ”

And the tree said, “No, not yet! I am still growing.”

So the birds left and found other birds and other trees to call home.

One day, a bird flitted about the tree, curious. “There are no nests here,” she said. “May I sit here a bit?” She asked.

“No, not yet!” Said the tree. “I am still growing – ”

“No not to nest,” she said quickly. “But just to…rest a bit.”

The tree was silent and then said, “Ok. maybe. maybe just a bit because it would be nice to just…talk. But – but my branches are still growing and you cannot trust they will hold. But I will try my best”

The bird laughed. “Silly Tree! I’m a bird! If it breaks, I’ll find another branch, or fly far away, I won’t be hurt!”

The tree relaxed a bit and the bird landed, full of grace on a branch. And over the next few weeks, they talked and laughed, and learned and sometimes the bird felt very very happy – almost too happy, if you know what I mean – and the tree was content too, but could feel the weight of the little bird on his branch at night sometimes, when she was asleep, and when he couldn’t sleep.

One day, he knew, just before it happened. “I don’t think I can – ” He said, as the branch snapped. But he was not too worried because the bird knew this might happen. The bird knew how to fly. He knew she would be ok. “I can’t – ” he started and the branch broke, right in the middle of a very clever joke or piece of poetry the bird was sharing. She was smiling when she tumbled out of the branch, beak first.

It was like she’d forgotten how to fly, and when she landed, her wing snapped.

The bird looked up at the tree, dazed and confused.

The tree was stunned, horrified even. “I’m sorry! I’m so sorry” the tree said.

“I fell” the bird said, resting against a root. It shivered underneath her, feeling the slice of pain tremble through her little bird body. “I… fell. I didn’t… think that would happen.”

She was quiet and then she said to the tree “Oh. You… broke.”

The tree did not want the bird to leave. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry but there are other branches,” The tree said. “There are other branches and I know this branch broke but the other ones are stronger, so long as you don’t rest too long. So long as you… as you fly away for a bit and… and come back. I’ve been growing. We have such lovely conversations you know, the conversations are the best part.”

So the little bird picked herself up, hopped on her feet, and gingerly pressed her beak to the bark in a soft peck of a kiss. “Ok, ” she said, but her voice didn’t sound the same. “Ok, I’ll try.” And with great effort she started to climb the tree. The tree helped where he could, moving a branch slightly, moving bark and small leaves around so she could climb to another branch.

The bird clung to the tree’s body for a little bit, staring at a new branch ahead of her. “It’s ok,” said the tree quietly. “You can take a step.”

And she walked, hesitantly onto the branch, quietly. Her feet were less sure than before. She found she didn’t want to look down. Her shoulder hurt.

The tree was mostly quiet. And so was the bird. No more lively conversations happened as often. But they still talked, and so the tree was glad that the bird did not leave. But the bird felt afraid at night. What if this branch snapped too? She flitted away sometimes with her broken wing, hopped back to the tree’s body, and sometimes moved away.

One day the little bird started to cry. “What’s wrong?” The tree asked, very distressed.

“I don’t know,” the bird said. “I thought I wanted to rest. But maybe I want a home. Or maybe I want to still rest. I’m scared this branch will break. We don’t even talk very much anymore. “

“You can rest! You can always rest here,” the tree said, and agitation crept into his voice too. “Just, not… not make a home – you can fly away a bit, and come back a bit so that you’re not scared of the branch breaking… it won’t break if you do that. And… and I’m ok with these conversations. You can always come to me when you need me and I…I want to be able to come to you when I need you too.”

“But you don’t need me,” The bird said softly through her tears. ” You can always come to me, but you have never needed to, and you probably never will. You don’t need me, and I don’t know that you won’t break again,” the bird said. “But, “she said, hiccuping. “I know you care about me and I care about you too. So I will try to… to leave and come back.”

“Are we good?” The tree asked, softly.

“We are something,” the bird said.

Her wing was not healing quickly.

Two weeks passed.

One day the tree awoke and found that the little bird was not there. He knew she wasn’t just flitting about because she had left him a small note, pinned to his body.

This is what she had written: I have to leave. Even with my broken wing, I have to leave. I have to leave because even though I know how to fly I need a branch I can trust to rest, or to stay. I think I want a home now. Maybe. You weren’t a home. Maybe I wanted that. Maybe I want that now, after you. Anyway, I can’t keep flying and coming back…not right now. I need a comfortable place to heal my wing before I can visit, or feel like resting on your branches again. Maybe I will be back. And maybe I won’t be able to see you again. Don’t be scared that you broke. You will grow stronger too, Tree. You will be able to hold other birds better too. And you will be a good home for another bird, or a resting place. I know you will be. I hope you will be. Tree, I’m sorry if I ever hurt you. 

I can understand your point of view, said the tree, leaves rustling in the wind in cautious apology, and with care, hoping the bird could hear him: You do you. I hope your wing heals. Sorry for any stuff I put you through. Best of luck, little bird.

The bird heard and smiled peacefully, her heart content. I am glad to have known you at all, she chirped, miles away. The wind took her tranquil song across many miles and the tree was calm, hearing the distant echo of her music against his leaves.

Some friendships can only exist in this silent, private space where goodbye and always here keep company.

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The only

Leaving with kindness. Leaving with grace. Leaving with love. Leaving like autumn leaves. Leaving without being missed. Leaving like a ghost. Leaving like a whisper. Leaving like a bird fluttering away when a branch breaks. Leaving like a thought you didn’t want to say out loud. Leaving like sand castles after high tide. Leaving without footprints. Leaving without asking for anything. Leaving with goodbye between the lips and always in the heart. Leaving to leave. Leaving to live.

The only thing I am really good at is leaving well.

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Two Penny Thoughts

why am i like this

and

how can i change

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Garden Graveyard Heart

My heart is always a two sided thing, garden flowers and sunlight and crafted beauty on the outside, and on the inside, an ugly restless cemetery lining all four chambers – fragments of headstones and moonlight float like silver shadows in my blood. Here, there are as many graves as people I know, some open, some closed.

I meet people with a spade in my hand these days. I tell them the truth: I like to grow plants. I try to show them the garden side of my heart first. I try to make sure they never see the other side. They joke about the dead plants in my sunroom. “I thought you said you like to grow things!” They tease. I smile back. “Haha, it’s the winter – all my herbs die!”

I never tell them the other truth, that I’m a pretty lousy gardener already planning a burial for our friendship – relationship – connection – whatever.

The more I want to share those flowers of my heart, abundant and rich in colour, petals as big as my face, the deeper I dig the open grave on the other side, digging into epicardial tissue, chewing me open from the inside out. The only way I don’t do this is if the other person stills the spade in my hand, gently takes it, sees the graveyard side of things, finds their own grave, and starts to fill it with fresh soil, making the grave a shallow thing.

Sometimes, on the garden side of things,  I pull up too many roots, too many bouquets to give away to someone. I never know how much is too much. Sometimes, the spade on the other side digs too deep. Flowers fall through to the graveyard side of things. The garden side starts to smell like rotting earth and casket mildew.

This is how my heart has broken every time it has broken. It has broken many times. I think there is a limit to how many times a heart breaks before something changes permanently. Survival is always possible. Recovery is always possible.

But after a point, a heart becomes less a heart and more scar tissue.

I plan burials but I never plan the actual murder. I have never killed a connection that was important to me – that has always been the other person, who tells me
(gently
or roughly,
or with silence for centuries – this is the worst way, to kill a thing slowly rather than swiftly and compassionately)

that they do not want the gifts of my garden heart. They they want less. Much less. Very little. So little.

“Oh.” I say, when this happens. “Thanks for letting me know. ”

“I’m sorry – ” they start.

“No it’s fine – you don’t have to apologise,” I call, from far away, already in the cemetery, already distracted from the conversation.  “I thought we mattered more to each other than we really did. Sometimes I get carried away.  I make up lies that feel good, lies like “we liked each other.” or lies like “we are good friends” or lies like “we have a very deep and important connection”. Thanks for the reality check – you can do what you like with the flowers, they’ve already been plucked.”  Potpourri. Trash. It doesn’t matter.

I find the grave I have already dug, My voice echoes, feels glass-heavy and far away – I am far away. I am inside a graveyard because it’s time to bury a friendship.   So long as my heart is not broken, this process is easy. Eventually, the half-alive things finish dying in peace, in silence, in ignorance, unattended. They never hear from me.  They never hear from the other person.  There is nothing to revive them.

But when my heart is broken, I have to collect the rotting earth in my trembling hands on the garden side of things, start to push it back into the hole, clear some space, find fresh garden earth to seal the wound. And when I’m at the surface of my heart, with its wound fresh, I have to drown out your promises and good intentions (read: lies, probably) which follow the “I’m sorry I can’t give more/I don’t want to give more right now”. I have to drown out, or respond to the,  “let’s stay in touch” or  “let’s be friends” and “we do connect well…” – all of it sounds like hope and hope right now is a lie, and I can’t drown it out.

My hand reaches for a flower automatically to give to you. After all, a request for friendship is connection. This is a conversation for the garden side of life.  But when I give a flower with one hand, the other hand must dig the grave deeper, wider, even though there is already a gaping wound. “Why do you want to be friends?” I ask, my voice clear and fearful and wary now on the garden side of things. I look down at the stupid flower in my shaking hand . Nothing feels real in that space between garden and graveyard. It is a nothingness. I try to move so that I can at least hide the gaping hole in the earth behind me. No one needs to see that.

No answer rings like truth. All that exists is the hole in the earth behind me. This is the only truth I know. “We have a good connection. We can help each other,” you say.  I don’t believe you. I can’t believe you. Your voice lands somewhere outside my heart. Nothing lands.

I nod, distractedly, distantly. “Sure, yeah we’re friends,” I say halfheartedly, the words taste stale, as I build tissue out of spells and magic to fix the hole behind me. “Yeah, I’ll… keep an open mind about it,” I say. My voice is shaking. I think I am lying. I am lying. I am ready for nothing. I am truthfully only ready for nothing, the vacuum of death for the end of a friendship, I do not have an open mind. I have no mind at all about this.

“Leave, just leave, it’s ok we don’t have to be friends, we don’t have to meet again – we don’t – you don’t, just leave, it’s ok, you don’t have to stick around for some random once-in-a-while conversations, just stop. let’s stop.” – the words stick in my throat. I don’t say them out loud. I can’t say them out loud.

A small hand is pressed against my voice box, gentle but insistent. “Shh” BeingLovedAgain whispers in my ear. I cannot swallow; the words are rocks in my throat.  She kisses my cheek and the rock dissolves into tears.

“I don’t know how to be around you” I say, finally, softly. “I don’t trust you.”

I would not want to be my friend if I were you. I am too broken. I am healing. I have nothing to offer. I am regrowing a heart. It is messy. You want so little. You want to give so little. I find myself wishing you wanted nothing. What you want is as good as nothing. I have nothing to give, I realise. I literally have nothing to give. There is no soil to grow anything; everything has been dug out. Grave or flowerbed, it all feels the same: empty.

You have nothing to give, and I have nothing to give either.

And then it’s time, finally to visit the graveyard side of my heart, and start to fill the grave with enough of the ugly soil, the dead worms, the old blood, – enough soil so that when I bury this zombie-half-alive-messy-ugly-remnant of a connection, a relationship, a friendship, the creature does not fall through to the garden side of things – the surface that I greet people with must at least look inviting.

Sometimes, even just the seed of a connection already feels wrong, already feels marked for death, already feels destined for pain; these I usually toss into open graves.

I wonder about the value of flowers these ugly things fertilise or give rise to.

Maybe all the flowers in my garden – the flowers I offer visitors – smell like dead things, and it warns people away.

Maybe this is why no one stays.

I tried to toss the seed of our friendship into an open grave, let it die before it’s ever born. Small mercies, I thought.

But BeingLovedAgain caught it in her hand, would not let me bury it so easily. I am too tired to argue with her. “What are you doing?” I asked her.

As the seed sank into her palm, she said with her scythe of a smile, “Writing a different story.”

 

 

 

 

 

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what is friendship?

Your friend is your needs answered.
He is your field which you sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.
And he is your board and your fireside.
For you come to him with your hunger, and you seek him for peace.

When your friend speaks his mind you fear not the “nay” in your own mind, nor do you withhold the “ay.”
And when he is silent your heart ceases not to listen to his heart;
For without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.
When you part from your friend, you grieve not;
For that which you love most in him may be clearer in his absence, as the mountain to the climber is clearer from the plain.
And let there be no purpose in friendship save the deepening of the spirit.
For love that seeks aught but the disclosure of its own mystery is not love but a net cast forth: and only the unprofitable is caught.

And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
For it is his to fill your need, but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.

– Kahlil Gibran

not us.

 

(yet.)

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Survive

When you became unspeakable,
your name a nail in my tongue,
that is when I knew
I must survive you too.

I have survived myself.

I will survive you.

 

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Seed

a sapling dies, like all the rest. I am not a gardener.  I am a groundskeeper, always
most at home among dead things. nothing grows here.  there is comfort in the consistency.
seeds are fertilizer for moldy memories, these slowly disintegrate.  the soil is rotten, filled with salt. a seed sits heavy in my pocket, waiting for life. i saw its death already last night, in a dream.  “I’m sorry” I tell it quietly.  “There’s nothing for you here.”  It is time to stop planting in cemeteries  and expect a different result. I touch it lightly,  turn it in my fingers, feel its little ridges, edges  ripe with memories, locked inside its seams, a smile tugs half my face, the little eye on the other side spies what I need.

No effort, I think. No pots, no shovels, no fresh soil  from the other side, no tears, no water, no sunlight,  no time, nothing. nothing for you little seed. there’s no point, little seed. you can’t grow here, little seed. time for you to die, little seed.

it curves a gentle arc in the night sky when i throw it into the nearest open grave –
A hand
lifts up
catches it in a fist. It is a scene from a show about zombies. This is how it starts, I wonder. The zombie apocalypse.  Its skin has disintegrated around the palm, tendons snap, bone crunches. She does not wince as she  raises her head slightly, all I can see is the scythe of her smile peeking out from under her hat,  wide brimmed and perfect for late spring and completely inappropriate for the sombre setting.  her chin has grown back in half, the other side still wounded flesh, ripped tissue.

“Oh,” I say. “It’s you.”

“Why are you here?” She asks.

“I don’t know,” I say. “It’s happening again – ”

“It isn’t,” BeingLovedAgain says. “I won’t let it.” She still has her hand in a fist, arm outstretched. “Watch.” When opens her fingers, the seed sticks to her bloody palm. I see it slowly start to sink into her hand, tissue wraps itself like a spiderweb around the seed, drawing it into her flesh.

“What are you doing?” I ask her.

“Writing a different story,” she says. “I’m keeping this, by the way,” and nods toward the seed. Her hat bobs.

“Fine,” I say. “Fine, that’s just fine.” She waves her little half formed hand like a post-apocalyptic magician, and the seed finishes sinking into her flesh . “Nothing grows here, so what’s the point?” I say matter-of-factly.

“That is the point. Nothing grows. Here. Why are you here.” It’s not a question this time.

“Maybe I belong here,” I say, but the words don’t even make it past my lips. They feel stuck. Her smile widens as my eyes widen in surprise. She opens her mouth sticks out her tongue – my tongue –  and when she speaks it is with my voice. “You don’t belong here.”

“You’re stronger than you think,” she says.

Immediately, I open my mouth ready to argue.

“Ugh fine,  I’m stronger than you think – is that better? More believable?”

Yes. It is. I nod.

“Good! Then it’s time.” She claps her hands together, and the sound is odd – flesh still sticks to her wounds. “It’s time to leave!”

“But I -” blink

and the heart is a garden again.

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Door

how many ways to shut a door
gently, softly with a little click, roughly with a slam, quietly with a whisper, hard enough to pull a hinge, soft enough so that someone walks into it thinking it was still open, with a spell, a door sealed, a key swallowed, a lock crumbles so the edges melt into the frame, a doorbell carefully smashed.

a talking door that laments being a door, insists on being a wall, asks from the universe for its next reincarnation to be just that: a wall, tall, in a tiny hall, leading nowhere, facing a window which opens into another brick wall so you can’t even jump out of it.

a door that is a jar (ha ha), secrets in the jam (ha ha).

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

tiredly.

it doesn’t even sound like a word anymore.

there’s nothing to say, do, or be done, anymore.

one day my lips melted together with my tongue, and new skin grew along my new face: eyes, a nose, and ears.

no one notices.

no one knocks.

there is no door.

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