Part of Me Never Stops Burning

I thought I would, at long last,
get a quiet love —
a love that, if it will burn,
burns as a warm flame in the hearth
or a bright lantern in the dark,
not a blaze to burn the whole house down.

The trouble is,
I am not made to be quiet.
Silence looks as well on me
as a cheap fool’s suit
that’s four sizes too small,
conspicuous and bursting at the seams
even if I don’t move at all.
And of all I’ve learned, the greatest lesson
is that nothing can be more foolish
than silence — for when has silence
ever saved me from a fire?
So my hair has turned the red-gold shade
of a hot, relentless flame,
to remind me that even though
I’ve escaped so many fires,
part of me will never stop burning;
therefore I must accept that
the roar and crackle of the blaze,
whatever its size or strength,
is the only voice I will ever have.

Thus my love for you is quiet
in only two senses:
it is absolute and steady, sure as stone;
and it is vast, like so much land and sea
that cannot possibly be seen
all at once while you’re in it.
What fire has ever been a match
for even the smallest pebble?
Can even an inferno fill up
the whole of a desert?
What words could I say
that would tell you of this,
and not be quickly swallowed up
as even the volcano’s utterance
is swallowed by the sea?

So if I do not speak, or cannot speak,
know that it isn’t because
I have nothing to say.
Even I don’t know
how many stone temples exist
beyond the horizon,
where the rest of creation
too awaits discovery.
And if I did, I would not live long enough
to teach my flaming tongue
to justly describe them all.


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“Crazy women are better in bed.”

It seems to me that the stereotype that crazy women are better in bed is really just the fetishization of women who, due to trauma and/or mental illness, may feel like they’re not allowed to say no (often precisely because they don’t want to be labeled “crazy” like so many women are the second they reveal that they have needs and desires that don’t match a man’s).

For the record, fetishizing a lack of healthy boundaries is creepy as fuck. So is taking advantage of someone else’s compromised mental state for your own ends, then discarding them when it no longer directly benefits you — but the attitude that this is okay to do to someone is sadly prevalent in our culture. It’s particularly odious given that people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of abuse and violence than perpetrators.

So think about that before you talk about a “crazy” person being a “wild ride”. People with mental illnesses are not here to be your amusement park.

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Love that doesn’t hurt

I was so, so terrified of falling in love again. I was afraid of being consumed, of feeling once more the raging fire of passion that would only grow bigger and bigger until it destroyed yet another part of me, burning everything around me to the ground and forcing me to rebuild my whole life — you know, just like the last few times around. I was used to love ending in a cataclysm. I was used to love hurting, the way it had hurt for my entire life, and I’ve often wondered if there is such a thing as love that doesn’t hurt; many have said there is, but I had never seen it, so I couldn’t really be sure.

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I fell in love with either of my partners, but for both, it was probably much sooner than I was willing to admit. I was afraid to treat either as a sure thing or get too comfortable, because historically, that’s always been when the real trouble started . . . but now, contrary to what I feared, I’m not being consumed at all. Yes, my heart trembles a little bit every time I look at them. Yes, I’m practically unable to stop myself from covering their skin with as many kisses as I can possibly fit onto them. Yes, I start craving their presence again as soon as they leave. Yes, I want to write them poetry and songs; though the depth of my feelings are impossible to convey in words, and so all the words I come up with always end up feeling inadequate. Yes, I would happily do anything and everything within my power to alleviate any suffering they might endure. Yes, I want to do anything and everything within my power to help them achieve happiness. But I’m finding that none of this is really the same thing as being consumed by love, and I think the difference is that I never feel like I’m at their mercy (well, except during very specific times when I want to be). No part of my sense of self or self-worth depends on their approval, nor do they try to make me feel like it should. I’m not spending a lot of time and energy trying to “improve” them in some way or convince them that they don’t need to “improve” me; I never feel like I’m trying to fend them, their judgment, their unexamined prejudices, or their obsession off. Finding equilibrium with them isn’t even a little bit difficult, even when there have been brief moments of tension. I demand nothing of them, and they demand nothing of me — everything we give each other is given freely. And if one or both of them should leave me, well, I already had a life of my own before either of them came along, one that I built up myself; it would be emptier for a while, but I wouldn’t have to start over again from scratch. I depend on them for nothing, and they depend on me for nothing, so it’s easier to focus on simply being with them, without being plagued by the potential consequences of not being with them.

I’m learning that just because the stakes are so much lower than they were in previous relationships doesn’t mean the love is any less; the lack of movie-esque drama has no bearing on whether the love we have is real — and in fact, it may even be more real, because we’re not confusing pathos with depth. It doesn’t hurt. There’s still plenty of fire, but it’s a warm hearth and a light in the dark, not a blaze to burn the whole house down.

A couple of months ago, I remarked that it’s been a pattern in my life that the things I’ve been most afraid of doing have always been the things I most needed to do, and maybe I should just assume that pattern will hold. It appears I was right — and I’m glad for it.

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Oversensitive much?

It is the height of hilarity to me whenever I get unfriended for pointing out that I’m not the “sensitive” one in the conversation, because I’m not the one who is so unable to take any kind of criticism that he (and it’s a “he” about 99.99% of the time) immediately gets defensive, starts desperately trying to get those criticizing him to back down, and even boots them from him space/life completely simply for pointing out that he posted something that perpetuates racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic/whatever stereotypes.

Nah, bro, no need to wish me good luck in life. Keep it for yourself — you clearly need it more. It must be hard, being perpetually butthurt because you can’t just say or post whatever the hell you want without thinking of anyone but yourself and expect to never get called on it.

Also, the joke’s on you, because my no longer having any respect for you after the way you showed your ass in that conversation means you actually did me a favor by unfriending me, and I will now mock you forever and ever and possibly even model a myopic, self-centered, intellectually lazy character with an immensely fragile ego after you! Thanks, dudebro! You’re a real inspiration!

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Openly hating the word “adulting” does not make you sound as adult as you think it does.

I’m well and truly over the “getting down on people who use the word ‘adulting'” bandwagon. Oh, you think I and a bunch of other people are stupid and pathetic for using the term “adulting”? Well, I think you’re being a humorless jerk about it, so I suppose that makes us even. You roll your eyes at us, we roll our eyes at you — it’s a fair trade.

But before you go on about how much you resent us for using a word you don’t approve of or even really understand, allow me to me ‘splain what the word “adulting” is shorthand for: “Adulthood isn’t as fun or glamorous as I thought it was going to be, and aren’t I ridiculous for thinking it was in the first place? Look at me doing shit that nobody likes to do and complaining about it like a putz, or reaching a milestone that everybody is told we’re supposed to reach and feeling like that makes me accomplished instead of just doing what’s expected. Silly, isn’t it?”

You see, the term “adulting” isn’t necessarily a complaint, and even when it is, it isn’t just a complaint. We’re using it ironically, making a bit of fun of ourselves for not having it all together enough to consider adulting an easy thing. And let’s be real here: it’s not. And you don’t know the reasons why it might be difficult for someone who isn’t that person you know who walked barefoot in the snow for three miles and uphill both ways to work each morning, with five kids under the age of ten in tow while literally juggling all their bills. You also don’t know all the reasons why we might, on occasion, feel like being totally sincere in congratulating ourselves for successfully adulting; for example, when you piss and moan about it, do you think about or even realize the fact that successful adulting is important to me because growing up, I was told by more than one important adult figure that I’d never be able to? All of us are fighting battles that everyone else may not know about, and it’s not your place to decide whether doing something like paying our rent on time was an easy or trivial thing for us (I mean, shit, have you seen the economy in the past decade?). It may well not have been — and if it wasn’t, then by golly, at least we can chuckle about it as we commiserate, using a ridiculous word to describe how ridiculous everything is, especially us and the pressure we feel to have everything perfectly together at all times.

“What do you want,” you whinge, “a medal?” Well, no. Believe us, we’re more than aware that nobody is going to give us a medal or cookie just for being marginally functional; so we mock-congratulate ourselves sometimes because, again, irony. Why begrudge us that little bit of poking fun at ourselves that helps keep us sane? I mean, would you rather we not be honest about the fact that adulthood didn’t turn out to be the amazing, dazzling thing we thought it would be, or pretend we’re not all just winging it? Would you feel more like we’re doing our duty by . . . I don’t know, you, I guess, if we just never laughed or even talked about how weird and silly and unsexy and sometimes difficult adulthood is, and instead only had breakdowns in private like you and your parents did (like my own mother did), feeling the pressure to have all our shit together at all times, feeling like utter and irredeemable failures when we don’t, and thinking we’re the only ones who don’t? Thinking that we’re alone? That sounds MISERABLE. Is that level of misery really what you want us to go through before you’ll be willing to consider us “real” adults?

How awful.

But luckily for us, our adulthood doesn’t hinge upon whether you approve of how we go about it, and there is no prize for being more stoic than everyone else. We may not get any medals for having our shit together, but neither are you for pretending that having your shit together is easier than it is. It’s not like we’re going to get any bonuses to our paychecks for pretending we don’t think this shit is silly or that we shouldn’t be a bit silly in turn, so we might as well have fun with it. So get your head out of your ass, stop with the pretentious “adultier than thou” bullshit games, and maybe lighten up. Life’s easier that way — trust us.

P.S. Getting your knickers in a wad over the language other people use (that isn’t actually hurting anyone, mind you) is a waste of time and makes you look pretentious and sour, not edgy and superior. I’ll be honest: there are slang words and language trends that I think are dumb and pointless. But because nobody asked me for my judgmental opinion, I keep it to myself and let other people do them as they please. And frankly, words like “adulting”, “bae”, “feels”, and “woke” are no more ridiculous-sounding than “grody”, “beeyotch”, “psych”, “tubular”, and “bitchin'”, so get off your high horse and chill out.

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Your work hasn’t even begun.

Y’know . . . it’s one thing to recognize and say out loud, “I have $MENTAL_ILLNESS and/or $PSYCHOLOGICAL_TRAUMA.”

But if you don’t do something about it (i.e. get help for it, in whatever manner you’re able to), what good does that do? You can know yourself inside and out, but if you don’t use that knowledge to actually improve your lot, what the hell does it even matter?

Especially if you’ve known these things about yourself for years, especially if you’ve known for years that these things fuck up your life and relationships . . . if, after all that self-knowledge, you’re still not taking real responsibility for it by fixing it, I don’t care what you say or what it took to even recognize that you have these problems in the first place; you’re still acting like a goddamned coward. Know why? Because actively working on these problems is work. It’s harder than you can believe unless you’ve been there, dark and painful and bloody and hellish. You feel like you’re lost in a dark wood at night while you’re doing it, and people who find themselves in that wood don’t always make it out alive.

Start doing that, and then come talk to me about how you’re totally owning your problems for real this time. Until you actually begin that work, don’t fool yourself into believing that you’re doing something about them, because you haven’t even begun.

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An open letter to my future partners

Dear future partners,

Let’s get one thing straight right now: you will not need me. Not only is that literally true in the sense that your life is certain to go on without me in it, but I will not tolerate you entertaining the fantasy that you cannot have a complete or fulfilling life unless you and I are together.

If you do entertain that fantasy, that will tell me that you are not just entrenched but invested in your own weakness; that on some level, you like being dependent on others. A relationship with me is not for the weak. Furthermore, that you think you need me will tell me that you don’t actually want me, and that when it comes right down to it, I could be anyone at all as long as I give you the things you depend on — security, affection, distraction from your own unhealed wounds — and don’t make you get those things on your own. I am tired of settling for being needed even after I’m no longer wanted. I will not be a matter of convenience for anyone anymore.

If you persist in this delusion, you will prove yourself unworthy of me, and I will move the fuck on. I am not for the likes of you. I am better, far better, than that.


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