The Size of my Thighs; The Art in my Heart

tape measure

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” Simone deBeuavoir

In fifth grade, I thought I was fat. One of my classmates told me I was, so it must be true. Suddenly, my geometric print leggings weren’t just unfashionable, they were now off-limits because my body didn’t deserve them.

girl mirror
“Even the models we see in magazines wish they could look like their own images.” 
― Cheri K. Erdman

To be clear, I wasn’t overweight. The script that girls are sold, though, is that you can never be quite thin enough, no matter how hard you try.

This script starts early.

When I was eleven I ordered a book from the back of Seventeen Magazine, called “The Final Solution”. It was touted as a guaranteed way to shed unwanted pounds. I wasn’t fluent enough in European history at the time to recognize the horror and terrible irony that came along with naming a diet and exercise book aimed at teens after the Nazis plan for systematic genocide.

girl barbie
“A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience.” 
― Naomi Wolf

That book was my companion well into high school. I would refer to it on occasion, whenever I was feeling particularly motivated to achieve some level of perfection, which I thought would translate to peace. Because God knew my black-only wardrobe and taste for obscure music weren’t doing me any favors in the popularity department. Maybe if I had a tight, toned, my-thighs-don’t-touch-or-jiggle figure I’d get there.

But, despite the messages to the contrary, there is no peace in the struggle for ‘perfection’.

In elementary school, I wore basically whatever I wanted. In middle school, I’d transitioned to baggy skater clothes, the better to hide my weird body with. By high school, I’d found some kind of middle ground: I could wear tighter shirts, if my pants were super baggy. I could get away with the occasional pair of belled leggings, if my shirt was three times too big for me. Because as much attention as I called to myself by wearing vinyl and spiked collars and anti-swastika patches, I still didn’t want anyone to see the way I was shaped.

sarah infrared
Me, at 20, convinced I was carrying at least 20 extra pounds.

Through these years I would try on different diets, often following in my parent’s hopeful steps. The Atkins diet was particularly memorable. I would eat hot dogs without the buns, dipped in mustard. Slices of packaged cheese. Artificially sweetened anything. Then, I would pee on a little strip of paper and hope hope hope that it turned a dark shade of red, indicating that my young and developing body had reached a state of ketosis.

 

Exercise came into my life only sporadically. My dad liked TV, my mother liked books, so even though we lived at the foot of the Pikes Peak, we weren’t an outdoorsy bunch. When I did get active, it would be alone, in my room, usually with a slender volume I pilfered from my mom’s bookshelf: Callanetics. The cover featured the middle portion of a slender woman in a leotard, with the title resting in her curves. The exercises themselves have merit; my approach to them, however, was rooted in low self-esteem and the search for a magic body bullet.

Aside from that, I didn’t play sports or go on hikes or really do much at all beyond reading and writing and (failing at) ‘rithmetic.

goth sarah
“Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one.” 
― Naomi Wolf

These were the same years that I learned to use my body as a commodity. Any contributions my personality could bring to a relationship paled when compared to the contribution this body could offer. Consequently, if I wasn’t hooking up with at least one guy, I didn’t consider myself worth much at all.

This method of trade immediately broke down when applied to my friendships and my intimate relationships with women. By and large, I wasn’t sleeping with the people in my friend group. And when it came to having a girlfriend, well, I was just so damn confused by the whole thing that I had no idea what to do.

Because this idea of sex as my primary value was so strong in my mind, it became incredibly difficult to navigate any relationship that wasn’t between me and a guy who wanted to sleep with me. I would occasionally have a kind of close female friend, but not often, and not for long. I would try to seduce most of my male friends from time to time. It took more than a decade after I got out of high school before I learned how to really have a friendship, no sexy strings attached. To this day, maintaining those friendships is a challenge. I still wonder what I could possibly have to offer.

cat barbieMy story is not unique. It is, in fact, distressingly common. Girls who wreak havoc on their hormones by going on unnecessary diets. Women who wonder what they’re bringing to the table, if they’re not opening their legs. Lives defined by the vehicle we were granted for this incarnation, rather than the soul it carries around. Bullying and advertisements, parents and peers and presidents, all telling us that we are only as good as our stomach is flat. Even that isn’t a winning score, though, because you’re still just a body. An object that belongs to someone else. Someone who knows what you need.

Here’s the thing: I’m a human being. All those people trying to tell me what I need? They’re human beings, too. And there is no way in hell they could be more knowledgeable about my mind, my body, and my needs than me.

So, hands off. This belly, these breasts, this smile and this heart are for me.

If I like you, a lot, maybe I’ll share.

bikini
The first bikini I’ve owned in nearly twenty years. And rocking it.

 

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Fiction Not Fiction

the house blog 8.1
Because I couldn’t think of a better fitting picture, here is a photo of my old house, wherein the vaguely referenced events happened. Plus cats.

 

About a week ago, I set down to write a personal essay about an event that happened shortly before my then-husband asked for a divorce. The essay flowed out of me in one afternoon. It was not an easy afternoon, and the process of writing it all out, revisiting that time, left me in a bit of a daze.

 

A few days later, with the essay still bouncing around in my head, the thought of fictionalizing the essay’s topic came to me. It seemed like a really good idea. Write what you know is one of the most often repeated pieces of writing advice, and what do I know better than my own experience? Besides, I thought, maybe turning it into fiction can help me process some of the guilt that writing the essay stirred up. See, the event in question didn’t just precede the request for a divorce; I believe it was a contributing factor to the request.

I wrote the first scene. Hated it. Decided to come at it from a different angle. Still struggling, but I figured that just came from not having written much fiction in the last few years. That’s the easy answer, the one I could rest against. But it’s not the truth. Not the whole truth, at any rate.

What is it about this piece that’s making me want to avoid it? Shame. And longing. During one afternoon in my married life, I chose to pursue something important to me, through a person that wasn’t healthy, in a way that was hurtful to everyone involved. Including myself. Like seeking out sustenance, deciding to get fast food, and then stealing that fast food from someone else.

Except, life doesn’t get summed up so neatly in these little metaphors. My actions were also a cry for help. An act of revenge. A desperate expression of need.

How do I capture all this in a short story?

How do I navigate all this in myself?

I guess the answer is that distressingly simple-but-not-easy approach: one word at a time. One moment at a time. Until I’ve moved through some of it, or enough of it that I’ve learned something new and can leave it on this spirally path until the next time it comes around.

For the last couple house meetings, I’ve made it a point to set my intention for how I want to move through the meeting. It strikes me that this would be a good idea here. Then I’ll have something to aim for when I feel stuck.

My intentions for writing this short story:

  • Practicing fiction
  • Release some of the heaviness I’m carrying around from my choices
  • Forgive not just myself, but my ex, and the other people involved. Even just a little bit.
  • Treat everyone in the story with dignity.
  • Have some fucking fun!?

If I can bring even one of those into fruition, I think I could be satisfied.

Especially that last one.

Never lose sight of the joy.

 

 

On Dark Days & Making Choices

 

framed woman 3 tony rubino
Framed Woman 3 by Tony Rubino

 

I close many of the Yoga classes I lead by bringing people into the fetal position for a few breaths. This is the pose that our bodies first encountered, as we developed in our mother’s wombs. Here, I like to remind them—and myself—that one of the beautiful things about being a human is our ability to choose, and in so choosing make each moment new. Continual rebirth.

What I don’t talk about in those restful moments is just how goddamn hard that idea is to put into practice.

I had a dark day recently. The first day of my cycle is always challenging. I’m in pain, I’m exhausted, I’m navigating a veritable shitstorm of hormones. My go-to coping mechanism is marijuana and movies. I’m well-versed in all the things I can do to make the day go more smoothly: gentle Yoga, journaling, drawing, going for a walk. But when it hits, all that stuff seems to be almost impossible to actually accomplish. Yesterday, my shining moment was walking to the grocery store, and I nearly passed out at a couple points during that adventure, which made me feel incredibly insufficient and weak.

child sarah
The author, before my fear voice had developed to the point where I started questioning my own worth. With my older twin brothers.

Feeling weak is both anathema and constant companion for me. One of the loudest and most persistent voices in my head is the one that tells me my methods for handling my life aren’t nearly as good as they should be. I should eat healthier. I should exercise more. I should be more social. I should write more, draw more, pick up an instrument, clean my room, make more money, etc etc etc. Sound familiar to any of you?

 

I’m betting yes.

When I am in a situation where my whole self is weakened, especially by circumstances out of my control (my cycle, getting ill), that voice gets louder. It’d be super nice if it would recognize that, hey, I’m already laid out, maybe you could back off a while, but no. It’s like a relentless hunter, waiting for any bit of wobble in order to double down its attack.

My counselor calls this voice the Inner Critic. It is ever-present, always talking, and rarely useful. But, like all things in nature, it’s not entirely useless. This voice stems from our protective instincts. It’s the voice that said look out, I smell a saber-toothed tiger. It’s the voice that said don’t go any further down this alley. It’s the voice that said this guy is going to hit you if you stay with him too long. It has a place. It can keep us safe.

trappedProblem is, it doesn’t know how to tell the difference between life-threatening, and literally everything else. Elizabeth Gilbert describes this voice’s refrain as a monotonous, unending no. That’s the answer to every possibility: no. Am I doing enough? Am I worthy? Am I okay? No, no, no. Can I succeed? Do people love me? Will this work? No, no, no.

It’s stifling. It can be debilitating. But dammit, above all it’s so. Fucking. Boring.

So. We have the incredible ability to choose, it’s true, and that is a beautiful, wondrous thing. It is the only instrument we have when we want to change our lives. Everything else flows from this ability.

Riding next to the ability to choose is this occasionally useful but often just awful distillation of fear. For me, more often than I’d like, that voice has its hands firmly on the steering wheel, while my ability to choose is left riding shotgun, or even relegated to the backseat. It’s not that it isn’t there, it’s just that this mean, chattering monkey is in the driver’s seat.

But, but—this voice says—you let me get behind the wheel. All you have to do is tell me to move.

sunAnd this is the same message I get from many self-help books, articles on self-care, and discussions with well meaning people. It’s just a matter of taking control. Making those choices.

Only, this rhetoric reinforces the voice. If it’s that easy, and I don’t do it, that must mean I’m weak, broken.

And round and round she goes.

I don’t have an answer. Not of the magic bullet variety, at any rate. It seems to me, though, that it all comes back to love. Those times in my life where I’ve felt most in love with myself are the times when making those healthy choices have been easiest. In turn, making those healthy choices helped me more deeply recognize my love for myself. The cycle moves in both directions, towards darkness and towards light. Too, those cycles are never-ending.

Life is the constant miracle of joy triumphing over despair. And the constant heartbreak of despair overcoming joy. So it goes. So it always has, so it always will.

Continual rebirth.

Which is to say, if it’s dark now, hang on: the sun will rise again, and there are lessons in the night. And if you’re basking in the glorious light, give thanks, give thanks, give thanks.

The Weight Of Guilt

pnw winter
The cottage cheese skies of winter in the Pacific Northwest.

After a few days of being sick in bed, I found my way back to Leap of Words, the online writing group I’m working with. The challenge was to write an essay about what it feels like to experience guilt, and whatever else comes up with the practice.

 

This would likely be a heavy piece at the best of times. At this particular moment in my life, it ended up being especially dark. We’re in the middle of a Pacific Northwest January, which means cold air, rain rain rain, damp socks in the morning and chilly feet at night, and a sun that rises late and leaves early. I find it almost insurmountably difficult to get outside during this time of year, and I don’t have a comfortable space for a home practice at the moment, so my physical exercise needs have not been getting met. (This is a Really Big Deal, I’m coming to realize.) I’m in a transition state with my living situation in many ways, and I’m also being confronted with some deep stuff I’m not really prepared to face (though I trust that I am capable of doing so) (mostly).

Add to that lingering illness sniffles, a poor night’s sleep, and some internal struggles/misgivings about an important relationship in my life and I end up with a sleepy, slightly grumpy, Sarah afflicted with an acute case of self-doubt.

Fun stuff.

Hands
I custom ordered that ring. It never quite fit, and he stopped wearing it after a while.

So I sat down to write this piece about guilt and of course what came out is my divorce. Or, more specifically, the reasons leading to my divorce. I didn’t cheat on my husband, technically, but with the way the emotional power dynamic was at the time, I might as well have. And that, my friends, was the death rattle of our marriage.

 

Honestly, the marriage was over well before that. He told me, at some point a couple months after we filed, that he’d given up on our relationship well before that point. He “stopped trying”. Which, as I write that, makes me wonder why. What was it about me, about us, that made him give up?

And then, will it happen again?

Am I fated to find myself years into a relationship where I am given up on?

Back to the topic at hand: guilt. So, yes, I felt guilt for cheating. More than that, by a long shot, is the guilt I felt and feel over the desires and needs that led to the cheating. To feel loved. To feel wanted. To feel sexy, and admired, and empowered. To express those feelings through physical contact of all kinds, and through conversations that are less about words and more about connection.

I chafe, big time, when I feel like my relationship dynamic has become that of friends who happen to share the same bed. Who say I love you, but don’t say I want you. When eye contact becomes sparse. When the preference is to focus on anything but one another.

So the guilt comes into play when I find myself in that situation, with years of history and promises made. How dare I ask for more? How dare I want more, when I have stability? When I have a sense of security?

lightbulbUntangling this mess requires going way back, and honestly, I’m not sure where to start. With my father, probably, because it always starts there. The first relationship where I felt like I’d been given up on. Without his influence on my life, without that through-line of feeling like I was broken and awful and defective running through most of my childhood, I probably wouldn’t have cheated on Every. Single. Person. I dated. I probably wouldn’t have slipped down the hole of drugs. I probably wouldn’t have felt the need to become the smallest, spikiest ball of anger I possibly could. (I’m not blaming him. He did the best he could with what he had. We all do. That doesn’t change the scars that I have to carry.)

Maybe if I’d been told I deserved joy, and freedom, and love as a child– no matter what I believed in, how I wanted to dress, or who I came to love– I’d believe it as an adult.

Maybe if I’d seen my mother treated as if she deserved those things, I could have internalized it for myself.

trailI have to move forward with what I have. I have to find a way to move forward that doesn’t just translate to running away. Because that would be easy, to sprint as fast as possible in the opposite direction whenever I find myself in a situation that pushes on these points. I’ve done it before. More often, I get a running start, then chuck a grenade behind me to make sure I can’t go back.

I’m tired of blowing things up. I’m tired of settling for less. I’m tired of not knowing how to navigate the space between the two.

I think being able to write this shows an uneasy but undeniable progress. And I’ll take any progress I can get.

Moving, Shifting, Changing: Welcoming 2018

huanchaco burger
One of my last days in Peru, at a burger joint in Huanchaco.

Welcome, 2018! I know this post is a bit late to the party since we’ve all been living this shiny new year for over a week now, but I’ve never been hugely punctual. It’s part of my dubious charm.

 

We all went through some crap in 2017. Our first year having a reality TV show celebrity known for his crassness and shady business dealings as the President of the US. Natural disasters that have made it seem, in the States at least, that the Apocalypse truly is nigh. Political and social unrest across the world, white supremacists coming out of the woodwork, threats to medical coverage and incomprehensible political machinations that seem to be systematically stripping the common people of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

cat collage
Cats of 2017, from Peru to Colorado to Washington.

That’s just on the big scale. I’ve talked to so many people who have gone through some wild and challenging events this last year, and I can include myself in that category. I came back from Peru and immediately started having symptoms analogous to PTSD. (I still can’t quite bring myself to say “I’ve experienced PTSD”, which is another exploration altogether.) I spent months crying in my teenage bedroom, completely unsure about myself, my direction, my life, my purpose, my existence. I spent months reconnecting with my mother. I traveled up and down the west coast volunteering at festivals and living out of the back of a truck with my partner. I lost myself for a while in my old life in rural Marysville, doing things and behaving like someone I used to be until a number of face-to-face confrontations with abuse, addiction, dishonesty, and disrespect made my eyes snap back into the open position.

 

Finally, at the end of 2017, I moved. Finally. FINALLY.

sushi bunk
Our bunk at a community house in Bellingham. If it looks chaotic, that’s because it is.

 

It’s a move I’d been needing for months, years even. A move out of separation and solitariness into connection and community. A move that has meant shedding layers, relationships, and situations that were keeping me heavy and blocked. It a shedding that is still very much in process, and which has brought up all sorts of feelings of being unworthy and unlovable. After all, even if my relationship with certain people was unhealthy, they were still my relationships. And, by virtue of having so few of these friendships, the ones I had seemed intractable and of enormous importance, even as they were deeply problematic.

cards
You can never really tell what cards people are playing with, until they lay them down.

(I’m not saying friendship is unimportant. I’m saying that when you only have four or five people in your life, they take on more weight than any one person should ever have to carry. A situation which becomes especially detrimental when those relationships themselves are riddled with rust.)

 

Country living has its charm. Quiet nights, incredible views of the stars, daily visits by deer and hummingbirds. It can also be extremely isolating. When the nearest town is a twenty-minute drive and seems terminally devoid of all but the most struggling signs of community, it can be hard to maintain a sense of connection.

My new city is the opposite. (Except for the visits from the deer; they love downtown!) Full of vibrant people who bring themselves into the world through communion, through workshops, through discussion and communal living and art and poetry and D&D games and silliness and conflict resolution. There is part of me that asks myself to temper my response to this place, but there is a bigger part of me that says dig in, this is the good stuff.

travel collage
Oh yeah, we bought a motorhome. For one dollar.

 

I read a blog post recently from a woman who writes about her own experiences in community living. She expressed this feeling of bonelessness that comes from offering yourself to the world in the form of creative expression, allowing yourself to be vulnerable in a deep and very real way. On the other side of this jellied feeling there lays the possibility for breakthroughs. This feeling is a signpost that Big Magic is in the works.

I am not boneless, not now. But I feel the potentiality there, within my grasp. Here, I have access to people, structures, and thought patterns that make space for my own innovations and offerings—should I choose to do so. That part’s up to me.

May we all say yes to healthy vulnerability, discomfort, and breakthroughs a little (or a lot) more often in the coming year.

Shedding My Layers Part One: Polyamory

blog 11.1

You ask, “Why do you cry with such

sweetness all around?” I weep as I

make the honey, wearing the shirt

of a bee, and I refuse to share this

suffering. I play the sky’s harp. I

curl around my treasure like a snake.

You say, “What is this ‘I’ business?”

Friend, I’ve been a long time away

from my center. What you see here is

your own reflection. I am still raw,

and at the same time well-cooked, and

burnt to a crisp! No one can tell if

I’m weeping or laughing. I wonder myself.

How can I be separated, and yet in union?

-Rumi

“I curl around my treasure like a snake.” This line, in particular, has caught me from this gorgeous poem. It encompasses, to me, what I have so often done with my sense of ‘identity’. I have curled myself around pieces of information and used them to define me. It’s something we all do, to varying degrees. We identify as our roles: mother, husband, student. As our social standing: pillar of society, hermit, fuck-up. As our jobs. As our diagnoses. As our emotions. As our thoughts.

None of that really describes who we are, though.  This morning, I felt buoyant. That does not make me buoyant, but at one time I did feel this way. I have been a wife—that does not, in perpetuity, make me a wife. And so one. I’ve even changed names throughout my life, so that, too, is a wiggly definition. Yet, without these labels, I am left with…what?

Well, that’s what I’m starting to discover. What is under all these layers I’ve collected over the years? With each definition I shed, something new arises. A spaciousness comes to light.

I’ll give you an example, one that is really not fucking easy for me to own up to, because of the path that brought me to this point in my life.

blog 11.2When I was sixteen, I was given a book called The Ethical Slut. Many of you have probably heard of it, or read it. For those who haven’t, it’s an inspiring nonfiction work on the practice of ethical polyamory. I ate it up. I identified with the author’s views on love, and sex. This idea that we should be able to love freely and let relationships grow organically appealed to me immensely. That we shouldn’t be ‘tied down’ to one, monogamous relationship. That ‘sex is nice, and pleasure is good for you’. The information in that book took root, and from that point on I identified as polyamorous.

Fast forward a few years, to the point where I met my now ex-husband. We dated for a while, then broke up. Then got back together. Then, because of this identity—as well as another I won’t get into at this point—we broke up again. I wanted an open relationship, he didn’t. Then, we got back together, and I worked hard at pushing this identity under layers of repression. I didn’t address it. I didn’t explore it. I hid it. And six years later it exploded with the righteous fury of a really hungry zombie. The marriage ended, in part because I demanded an open relationship.

Moving forward, I tried to embrace this idea. The jealousy and discomfort that came up in the course of trying to model the kind of relationship and free-wheeling sexuality I decided I wanted did illuminate many things, but never quite became the tool of discovery I hoped for. Instead, I made myself miserable, and plenty of people I care about deeply were pretty miserable, too. Still, I pushed ahead, sure that I could just keep wading through until something started to shift and I could see the light. I kept hoping, believing, that there would come a time when me talking about polyamory to another person would feel natural, and not like I was dressing up in someone else’s clothes.

It never happened. But I wanted it to, so badly. Not in small part because I’d used polyamory as a cudgel to maim my marriage, and hurt a good man in the process. I had to be polyamorous. I had to be open, and sexy, and free-spirited because I’d built so much of my identity around this thing.

I curled around that treasure like a snake, and I was damned if I was going to let it go. It was me, after all.

Except…it wasn’t.

These last couple months—hell, these last few years—have been a thunderstorm interspersed with breaks in the cloud letting brilliant beams of sunshine in. Focusing now on the last couple months, I’ve found myself recognizing bits and pieces of clothing I’ve been wearing that don’t actually belong to me. Big bits.

Polyamory is one of them.blog 11.3

I’ve always liked to think of myself as counterculture. Too cool for school (literally). I have always kind of loved the shock factor that comes along with parts of my identity I collected, and polyamory is definitely good for a bit of taboo, a bit of titillation. But one thing I’ve come to realize is that adopting something with the hope that it will make people flinch, or lean in with a leer, is no different than adopting something with the hope that it will make them like you. It’s still acting based on what someone else will say.

Why polyamory, out of all the ‘shocking’ bits of identity I could have chosen?  Well, relationships are a sticky, tangled web. One that I have enjoyed losing myself in. One I have enjoyed escaping from myself into. For me, sex has been, at times, a weapon. An escape chute. A tool.

It has also been a joining of souls. A Divine experience. Transcendent.

At times when I’ve wanted to escape, I’ve used sex as a means to do it. I’ve used relationships as a means to do it. At times when I’ve wanted to be closer to God, I’ve used sex and relationships in an attempt to fill that uniquely God-shaped void. In the end, using sex and relationships at all has only ended in more suffering. They’re not tools to be used. They’re opportunities to celebrate, to practice gratitude and connection.

blog 11.4As I’ve grown stronger in my relationship with God, and as I’ve found a more personal relationship with Shiva in particular, this need I’ve felt to embrace polyamory has evaporated. It’s a strange feeling, but, like I said, there is a spaciousness left in its place.

I want to be clear that I am not looking down on polyamory for anyone else. I do believe that for some people it can be a holy, ethical, aware practice, and besides, that’s none of my business. I’m also not saying that I am totally closed to the possibility that at some point in the future I may find myself in a situation where having an intimate relationship with more than one person is truly my Path. But, I can guarantee, it won’t look anything like anything I’ve done in the past.

I am done using my sexuality as a place to hide, a place to escape, or a weapon to hurt. And that feels pretty fucking good.

Thank you, polyamory, for all you have taught me. I am sorry to all of those who have been hurt in the process. I ask for Divine guidance in the next steps of this journey.

Namaste.

How To Go Back Without Going Backwards

blog 10.2
Me. 18. Mere minutes after getting my lower lip pierced.

I write this sitting in the bed I slept in when I was 16. Sitting in the room I lived in when I was 16. Staring out the window at the same view I saw when I was 16. I’m 31, now, but coming back to my parent’s house has forced me to look at many, many aspects of myself that I’d just as soon forget.

 

I just finished watching the first season of “No Tomorrow” (which I highly recommend, cheesy romance bits and all), and there’s a scene where the main female lead breaks things off with the main male lead because he won’t talk to his father. “I can’t be with someone who isn’t their whole self.” That struck a chord with me. I can’t BE someone who isn’t their whole self. I’m not willing to live a life unexamined, just because some of the really painful bits I’ve glossed over happened ten, fifteen, twenty years ago.

When I was considering coming here, instead of going to Seattle or South Carolina or wherever the hell else, I experienced a lot of anxiety. Was I admitting defeat? Was I returning to comfort for the sake of comfort? Would I fall back into those dark, angry patterns I grew so familiar with when I was a teenager?

Upon arrival, and for a couple weeks following, these thoughts plagued me. This room is even organized more or less the same way, with the dresser next to the window, the desk on the far wall. There are different things in the closet, different art on the walls. But the most important difference has nothing to do with the window dressing.

blog 10.3
Dug up from my ancient DeviantArt account

It’s me.

 

Yesterday, in search of collage material, I went through some files of old paperwork, school assignments, etc., that my mom had kept over the years. I found some startling things. A missing poster, that my mother made the second time I ran away from home. A letter, begging my parents to let me quit high school, written the day after my best friend came to me in the hallway and said, “You’ll never believe how many people don’t like you!” A scrapbook I made, half finished, with the last bit of paraphernalia a postcard that said I HATE EVERYONE.

Memories of my formative years, marked by pain. Feeling ostracized. Feeling unworthy. Feelings that have followed me, even as I’ve worked so hard to gloss over those years, put them in the past, let sleeping dogs lie. All that bullshit.

Because those sleeping dogs wake up. And sometimes they bite.

blog 10.1
Standing in my room. The flowers on the dresser are still on the dresser.

 

I also found, in those scraps of writing, a girl I recognize wholeheartedly. A biting wit that takes shit from no one. A strong sense of moral ground. A desire to be better, do better, share with the world. She wanted the same things I do, now, in many ways. “Inside you,” she (I) wrote, “is all the talent and ability you will ever need.” Which comes down to saying, “I am enough.

And I am. So are you.

And you.

And you.

I came back to my parent’s home for many reasons. To help my mom with the house. To gain wisdom, guidance, and companionship from my parents, my brothers, a few old friends. But mostly, I came back to put myself back together. To reunite with the girl I, too, set out in the cold.

I’m not going to lie, it’s hard as hell. But going back is the only way I’ve found that will allow me to move forward.

Here’s to you Caiti. Sara. Zandila. Eliza. Spiro. The girl with too many names.

You have a home here.