Perennial

Plant me, 
watch me grow. 
Water me, 
nourish my soul
with
love and tenderness. 
Let my leaves and
petals fall;
I am meant to wither
from time to 
time. 
Give me your
blessing,
allow me to 
be reborn.
I will always 
push through the
constraints of 
the gardens of life.
Shine your sun

onto me, 
as I sprout through
the tightly packed
earth formed
by my mind.
Be patient with me, 
I need time to 
come home. 
But I promise, 
I always will. 

Survivor’s Lament

They told her
run, run, run,
but not too fast,
you should
let them chase you.

They urge her to 
quiet, quiet, quiet,
tell no one of 
this battle.

She wanted to
go, go, go,
anywhere other than
where they were,
and to hold onto
her innocence.

All they do is
take, take, take,
everything from
the ones they catch.

But frozen she
stood, stood, stood,
her brain unable
to tell her lips.

She longed to
scream, scream, scream,
but she could not
find the words.

They looked at her and
laughed, laughed, laughed,
her lament providing
them with a sitcom’s
worth of humor.

Eventually they
lost, lost, lost,
interest in her
and walked away.

They left her there to
melt, melt, melt,
away with her memories
of her ordeal. 

She finally
screamed, screamed, screamed,
but she
knew, knew, knew,
that it was in
vain, vain, vain, 
because it was her word against their’s
and who would they
believe, believe, believe?

Surf’s Up

“Ride the wave. One day it will be over.”

The world is an ocean. It is wide, vast, and infinite. Sometimes I feel like we get thrown into this ocean of a world with no tools, no lessons, and no metaphoric flotation devices. Just like an ocean, the world has incoming and outgoing tides. There are times when the waves seem insurmountable, and there are times when they seem small enough to walk over; but the one constant is that life will have its waves.

People tell us about the waves that life can throw at us. They have no problem explaining the potential difficulties we may encounter, but they neglect to tell us what to do when we encounter them. They tell us that all of life’s waves will one day end, and to simply ride the wave until its end.

Which, for me, begs the question: How can I ride the wave if I was never taught to swim?

Before parents let their children swim in the deep end by themselves, they enroll them in swimming lessons. They prepare them for the dangers that the deep end can possess. I think there is something to be said for preparedness. I think that it makes logical sense that people are better equipped to swim through the deep ends of life when they have been given the proper tools and training to do so.

Like the ocean, life is an unpredictable beast. It can throw things at us that we never even thought possible, it will try to drown us. But would we not be better suited to handle these challenges if we were given proper tools? I understand, the unpredictable nature of life makes it hard to prepare for the unknown. I don’t even think that’s what I’m suggesting. It’s impossible to prepare for the unknown, that’s the very premise of unknown things. But when it comes to things like death, and grieving, why are we never taught how to cope? Why are we never taught to swim?

I look at my life and there are times when I would love nothing more than to simply ride the wave. The problem is that the world never taught me how. They never gave me floaties, swimming lessons, or a fludder board. They sent me into the world’s ocean and told me to ride the wave. But I never learned how to swim.

 

The Queen of the Castle

I sat in my tower, 
way up high
and I watched the scene
with a smile on my face. 

I watched the bridges 
of our past
go up in flames. 

I smiled because
even though you lit
the matches and started 
the fires all those
years ago, 
I threw gas on our fucking 
bridges, and I was happy
to watch them burn
worse than the hell
they were made of.

Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are

I used to think that the parts of me that I hated, were hated universally by anyone and everyone I met. I assumed that because I hated my stomach and the excess fat I thought I had, that everyone around me hated it too.  I remember thinking that no one would ever fully love me. Because if I didn’t fully love me, how could I ever expect anyone else to?

So I would hide the things I didn’t like about myself from most people. There were times when I was completely ashamed of the fact that I live with multiple mental illnesses, so I would only disclose it to a select few people. I remember even after I had stopped self-harming I was completely petrified of the idea of anyone seeing my scars that I would wear long sleeved shirts and sweaters on even the hottest summer days.

This caused me to keep secrets from people close to me; parents, friends, partners, you name it and I probably kept secrets from them. I’m not talking life threatening secrets, but secrets nonetheless.

The thing is that I should never have felt like I had to hide any parts of me. Sometimes letting people in and showing them these parts of me helped me to see how they could be lovable.

I remember when I started taking medication for my anxiety I was tentative to tell people. I was worried that the stigma surrounding taking medication for mental illnesses would be too much for me to handle. Then I talked to a close friend about it and she told me that she viewed it as a sign of strength. She felt that by me making the step to take medication that I was being self aware enough to admit that my life needed more help than I had been giving it. Now I try to talk to people about the fact that there is no shame in taking medication for a mental illness, the same way there would be no shame in taking medicine for a cold.

Since being in recovery from my eating disorder, I have gained a substantial amount of weight. It’s been a huge adjustment for me, going from thinking that gaining weight was the worst possible thing that could happen to me, to trying to understand that gaining this weight was healthy. If I had never worked up the courage to be intimate with my fiance even after gaining weight, I never would have been able to fully appreciate my new body. I am still learning to love myself, but seeing that someone else loved me despite something that I perceived as a flaw was a huge catalyst for my journey of self love beginning.

What I’ve learned over the years is that someone who truly loves you will never make you feel like you have to hide parts of you. Someone who cares about you and your best interests will want to know about every part of you, and yes, I mean even the dark and scary parts that you keep so hidden they’ve collected dust.  There’s nothing healthy about secrets. Sometimes they start out with the best of intentions, but rarely will they have positive end results. Letting those dark and dusty parts come out can be a really daunting task, and I get that. The thing is that when you find someone worth letting them out for, it will be one of the most liberating and full of potential experiences of your life; it has been for me.

If You’ve Never Tasted Peanut Butter

I really hate questions about “what I did today.” I understand that questions like this are a pretty standard part of life, but they make me uncomfortable.

Why, you ask? Well, because some days, I really do not do that much, and that can make people look at me differently. There are days when either my depression, anxiety, or body image (or any combination of the three) make it extremely difficult to do things. There are days where leaving the house is too much for me, and migrating from my bed to the couch is my greatest accomplishment. There are days when every sight of my body brings me to tears, so the thought of being naked even for the purpose of bathing is paralyzing. There are nights when I’ve slept for two hours because the thought just wouldn’t stop, so I spend the day following binge watching Netflix to keep my mind from wandering.

But I can’t just tell people these things. When they ask me “What did you do today?” it’s easier sometimes to come up with a lie than to deal with the looks of pity, confusion or disgust. I know they don’t mean any harm, but they just do not understand. If I were to be honest on those days and respond with something like “Well today my biggest accomplishment was moving to the couch from my bed,” I know that some people would look at me differently. That is the problem with stigma. People do not understand that things that may seem like “simple, everyday tasks” are quite the contrary.

I live with multiple chronic mental illnesses. I am still learning how to cope and how to deal with them in my day to day life. People try to do their best to understand, but it’s hard to understand something they haven’t experienced. If you’ve never tasted peanut butter, you can’t really imagine the taste. Sometimes the thought of explaining the taste of my mental illness is just too hard. So if I seem hesitant to tell you how I spent my day, take a beat, and ask yourself if you’re ready for any possible answer. Remember that my life taste different than your’s and unless you’ve tasted my problems, you may not ever fully understand them.

Eat the Pizza

I love pizza. It’s probably my favourite food in the entire world. I remember when I was deep in my eating disorder I was in my second year of university. I remember when I would be with my friends after a night of drinking and everyone would decide to order pizza. I would be paralyzed. My ED would say to me,

“Don’t eat it. They’re watching. They already think you’re fat. Do not eat the pizza.”

So I would sit there, wanting nothing more than to just have a slice of pizza, but I wouldn’t. I would make excuses to my friends about why I wasn’t indulging with them; things like I’d had too much to drink and I didn’t feel well, or I had pizza recently and didn’t feel like having any, things like that.

The thing that doesn’t make sense is that when I was alone in my dorm on a regular old weekday, my ED would push me to order myself a large pizza, eat the whole thing solely with the intention of purging. My ED would convince me that because I was alone, no one was there to judge me, and it was perfectly okay to order a large pizza to myself. But then the more I would eat, the more my ED would guilt me into purging. I remember one night I had eaten way too much pizza, and felt disgusting. But I also remember I did not want to purge, so I took a shower. My ED was so loud and it screamed at me,

“You’re disgusting. How can you stand to look at yourself in the shower?
Look at your stomach. Look at your thighs. No one will ever love you like this.”

I purged in the shower. I was crying my eyes out and I felt so alone. I wish I could say that this was my rock bottom moment, but it wasn’t. As my disorder continued and progressed, I felt like I was letting my life pass me by, because it was. I was missing out on things that I loved, on doing things with my friends, on wearing certain things, I would literally avoid leaving my apartment on days where my body image was too low to fathom being seen in public.

I remember thinking my ED was my friend. I thought that it had my best interests at heart, so it definitely wouldn’t lie to me about people judging me for eating pizza. It wouldn’t convince me to stay in my apartment if I really shouldn’t be staying in. But I was so wrong. Now that I am in recovery, I can see that there was nothing friendly about my eating disorder. Bulimia was not the friend I thought it was. It wanted to kill me and it most definitely did not have my best interests at heart. I wish I knew then what I knew now, but alas, hindsight is 20/20.

So, the lesson here is that, a friend will never tell you to not eat things you love. A friend will always let you do what feels right for you. A friend will let you be you. Moral of the story: Always eat the pizza.