"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


You've always been two people to me.
The person you are, and the person you pretend to be. 
I've kept one of you here, safe in my heart.

I can smile at smiles, even now. 
Even when I curse and cry at you
Even when I let you fade away into the depths of time
I can remember you, fondly. 

It is like I have kept my friend with me, eternally
And that is enough, enough for me
Enough that I can still smile at what used to be. 

for forgotten friends. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

my demons.

Now Playing: Fire & Rain by James Taylor (I've seen fire and I've seen rain, I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end, I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend, but I always thought that I could see you again)

I have had depression for about six years now. In retrospect, I've always been a pretty anxious person, but it has escalated into full-blown anxiety in the last year or so. These are my demons.

I knew I was depressed pretty quickly, once it set in in a big way; it's just like you know you've got a flu even before you start hurling or before your thermometer tells you that you should technically be on fire. It's really hard to explain depression; it's like...you forget how to be happy. The things that used to make you happy don't have any effect on you and you try, you try so hard, to have an appropriate reaction but it just seems really fake and performed and doesn't fill you with that warm glow. And the tiniest, pettiest, most trivial things can send you down the rabbit hole of despair and hopelessness and worthlessness.

Depression isn't like a cold, though; you can't catch it, it isn't caused by anything, and you can't cure it by 'manning up' or popping a few pills. Depression is more like cancer; it never fully goes away, it just goes into remission. Depression is something that is on and off, for most people; there are times when you can be happy and sad like a normal person, but it's always lurking in the background. It's something I have to recognise and accept in myself, and learn how to manage it. I have been suicidal before. I have seriously considered taking my life before. It's scary.

There are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about depression; that it's just a mood thing, it's just weak people unable to cope with the normal trials and traumas of life. But just like how cancer is caused by cells mutating and multiplying, and diseases are caused by germs attacking your body, mental illnesses is an actual physiological thing; it is caused by an imbalance of chemicals in the brain. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert, but basically our moods and how we process and react to things are controlled by a careful balance of chemicals called neurotransmitters that impact how we process and store data; the effects of caffeine or alcohol or recreational drugs is a result of increasing or decreasing the level of chemicals in the brain. Mental illnesses does that for you; there is significant evidence and research to show that people with mental illnesses have different levels of neurotransmitters than people without mental illnesses. Antidepressants work by attempting to fix the neurotransmitters back to normal levels. It's all science and chemicals.

The hardest part about having depression is that nobody takes you seriously. Unlike breaking your leg or being punched in the face depression doesn't have physical symptoms, usually; it's all up in your brain. People can't see that your neurotransmitters are fucked up, so they simply don't believe it. That's the hardest part. People tell you to snap out of it, to grow out of it - but they'd never ask you to snap out of having a broken leg. Having a mental illness isn't about being weak or pathetic or unable to cope. Having a mental illness is being sick; it needs care and treatment and empathy just like any other kind of sickness.

My anxiety is a little more complicated. I don't know what makes other people upset. To me, people seem to behave irrationally and unpredictably, and so I'm always afraid of people, or of upsetting them. I find it really hard to talk to strangers, and I find loud, crowded places extremely stressful and upsetting. I can't deal with language barriers and sometimes I can't maintain eye contact. I get upset easily and I can't control my reactions to certain things, and my relationships are defined by uncontrollable insecurity and paranoia. I get panic attacks and I have lots of phobias; most obvious is my fear of needles.

When I was younger I don't think my family really understood mental illnesses or recognised that I had them; I don't blame them, because people in general know so little about mental illnesses and even less on how to cope with them; also, mental illnesses are highly taboo and unspoken topics in Asian cultures. I have had to deal with my demons on my own, for a long time; but I think now that I am better able to articulate my needs and problems and they are becoming more informed about these things they are becoming more accepting and supportive, which I am unbelievably thankful for. My only advice when someone tells you that they have a mental illness is to keep an open mind. It is incredibly difficult to admit to people that you have a mental illness; I have never met anyone who lied or bragged about having a mental illness. Even if someone isn't 'clinically' depressed or doesn't actually have an anxiety 'disorder', the fact that they think they do means that they are obviously troubled and definitely need support.

I know it is difficult to be friends with someone with demons like mine; but only if you forget or trivialize their problems. We accept that people with diabetes need to test their blood every day and might suddenly faint and need sugar. We accept that people with epilepsy might not be able to drive and might have a fit at any random moment. What we don't accept is that people with mental illnesses can lash out or be unable to behave appropriately. Everyone is capable and deserving of love regardless of their physical or mental incapacitations. Just because someone is sensitive and struggles with demons doesn't mean they don't love you, or care about you, or would do anything for you. All friends sometimes feel burdened or heavy or unloved or uncared for, and it is easy to blame mental illnesses. But nobody ever said friendship was easy. It's when friendship gets tough you realize who your true friends are.

I just lost my dearest friend because he couldn't deal with my having demons. I tried so hard to tell him that I cannot help but be upset and irrational and I try my hardest to manage it, but there are some things that are simply out of my control. I tried my hardest to tell him that I always loved him and cared for him, but he didn't believe me. I tried to tell him that I am going to feel insecure and paranoid unless we communicate openly, but we didn't. In the end we were very different people and perhaps we are better off not being friends. But it hurts beyond belief that he left to punish me for being sick. I am such a mess right now; every day it takes so much effort to get out of bed, do my work, smile and face the day. If it were not for my family and friends I could not do it. I miss him, of course, and I regret that we have parted ways. But I can get over that; this is not the first or last time someone has flitted in and out of my life. What hurts the most is not his absence, but the reason for it. I trusted him with everything; he told me to always be honest with him, about how I was feeling, and that he'd always be there for me. He told me to be myself, that I didn't have to pretend to smile with him, that I didn't have to be insecure or paranoid, because he wouldn't leave. I told him about my demons, I was open about when I was upset and why, I was open about what I needed for our friendship to work. In the times I had better control over myself I told him how much I cared about him, and would do anything for him; and that whenever I treated him badly I did not mean it, I could not help it, and that I was sorry. I told him that if I was doing anything to hurt him all he had to do was tell me, and we could work it out. I did the best I could do and in return he said that I wasn't a good enough friend for him because I'm sick. Who am I supposed to trust now, when my best friend has abandoned me because of my demons?    

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The back room of my favourite coffee shop
Unsullied by memories 
A place of quiet contemplation 
Without your sweet smile and cold goodbyes
I am at peace.

Wordless Wednesday: More Paint Art

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

a pretend to smile.

Now Playing: Dear John by Taylor Swift (maybe it's me and my blind optimism to blame, or maybe it's you and your sick need to give love then take it away)

Not everyone knows about Ai Weiwei, a Chinese contemporary artist well known for tweeting pictures of himself flipping off historical monuments and not as well known for designing the birds nest for the Beijing Olympics. Not everyone really likes Ai Weiwei, either; namely the Chinese government aren't really huge fans. But despite not everyone knowing or liking Ai Weiwei, he has made an undeniable impact on the world. He dares to speak out, even though he comes from a place where speaking your mind can be one of the most dangerous things to do.

A lot of people accuse me of being performed or attention seeking of late, but I think they are unfair accusations. I can't talk to people, I can't walk up to a complete stranger behind a counter and ask them for something, I can't tell a waiter what I want to eat or a shop assistant if I can use the fitting rooms. Even amongst my close friends I can't always tell them what I want to do, or even just look them in the eye. I had a panic attack when someone laughed too loudly. Of course everything I do is performed; it's performed because unlike you, I have to actively pull myself together and grit my teeth through everyday life. I have to force myself to do things that involve people and interacting with them; so of course it's going to come off as performed. I do my best. Forgive me for not being perfect.

As for attention seeking, well; everyone's pretty damn attention seeking. Doing anything that differentiates you from a robot makes you attention seeking.Even deliberately avoiding attention is in itself attention seeking. We all crave attention, but we have made seeking attention to be such an obnoxious thing. Women, in particular, are meant to sit quietly and agree politely and hope and pray that some man notices her blending into the wallpaper; we have glorified the wallflower because we're terrified of a woman bold and independent and individual enough to be the life of the party. Men like it when they 'find' someone who is humble and self-effacing and perfect but ignored until now; men don't like women who haven't been ignored, because they're tainted by the male gaze. There is, apparently, something desperate about a woman who puts herself in the limelight; it is because we have made women to be obscene - both 'off stage' and 'disgusting'. The girl everyone likes is someone defined by everyone liking her; if people hadn't happened to take notice she would have been a nobody. I am not like that. Whether you like it or not, whether people notice me in the crowd or not, I will always be a somebody. And we all crave attention; nobodies and somebodies, it's just whether or not we procure this attention without voicing our desire for it that matters, which is ridiculous and hypocritical.

So I am well aware that I'm quite a performed, attention seeking person. But what differentiates attention-seeking Ai Weiwei and attention-seeking Kim Kardashian is sincerity, a sense of integrity; the thing that differentiates artists and performers and activists from reality TV stars is that people like Ai Weiwei refuse to 'pretend to smile'.

I had a very close, very precious relationship with someone that broke because I couldn't pretend to smile. My pretend to smile was to like someone I didn't know; and the only recommendation is that 'everyone likes her' - with the design of pressuring me into liking her, too. I have no doubt she is someone perfectly likeable and worthy of being liked, but the idea that someone is validated as a good or decent or interesting person solely because everyone likes them is ridiculous. I knew a boy who was almost universally liked, too; it did not make him a particularly good person or friend. He was liked because he was so easy to forgive, but that did not make him very forgiving. By circumstance, I could not like this girl; liking her would be a pretend to smile, and an insult to everyone involved. We had nothing in common and far too much to drive us apart. I am perfectly sure she was not very interested in knowing or liking me, either.

I have always considered my relationships totally distinct from each other; it was why I could love a girl and her ex boyfriend equally and at the same time, and there would be no row because they were two individual relationships instead of an attempt to force three people to mutually love each other. You learn, eventually, who and what you can and can't bring up, and it's fine. I have my list of things I'd rather not talk about, too. But that isn't good enough, for some people; to prove how much you care for them, you have to pretend to smile and like someone else, too - their best mate, or their girlfriend, or whoever they consider to be of equal or greater value than you. It's messy and humiliating and inevitably doomed to fail. I will be cordial to whoever you might hold dear, but I am under no delusions that my friends' friends are automatically my friends, too. I should be able to choose who I want to associate with without risking what is precious to me.

And I have watched, too, as people pretend to smile until their falsehoods become realities. They believe whatever is convenient, and twist stories into half-true fairytales in which they are always the hero.

I do not strive to be known to everyone, or liked by everyone. The only people I know who have achieved this are aggressively vapid, and posess no talents either than the ability to pretend to smile. You can claim that all these well liked people are intelligent and outspoken; but only on conventional matters. They only speak loudly because they're singing with the choir. I only want friends who will speak for the silenced, and be unafraid of dissent and defiance; these perfectly likeable, perfectly intelligent, perfectly opinionated people quickly lose their virtues at the face of something remotely controversial. These are not the kind of people I admire, and not this is not the kind of person I aspire to be. I have my faults, but at least people will know and remember me as a person of integrity and sincerity. These perfectly flawless people have flaws, and it is stupid to think that they are immune to human failings. I think the most unforgivable flaw is to be so quick and unrepetant when you pretend to smile.

I know you do not think of me as a particularly honest person, and I know you consider my demons to be great flaws in my character rather than illnesses that I struggle with, every day, with or without your company. But I only lied when I felt obligated to pretend to smile. In all other things I was honest to you, even when it hurt, and even when I knew it would hurt you. I thought someone like you might be deprived of someone to tell it like it is, so I did. I risked everything to be a good friend to you, and when you forced me to pretend to smile I did my best. I know you are not really listening, now; I know your great talent for believing whatever is convenient will make me seem an even greater liar than you thought before. But I don't live for you, anymore. I live for myself. And I know in my heart that I was always as honest and as sincere as I could possibly be, with you. If you don't believe me, then consider why I believed everything you said, why I believed you did everything in good faith, why I took your word for it when you promised me all those promises you broke. I believed you because I was being honest, and when you're honest with someone you cannot help but believe, or hope, that they are being honest, too. But I was not the liar; you were. Your honesty was nothing more than a thin veil to hide your cruelty; when you were being kind, or generous, you were also lying. And now you have broken me like a promise, and I realized too late that just because everyone forgives you doesn't mean that you are worthy of forgiving. You broke me like a promise, but I was honest to you to the very end. I don't need you to hear it or believe it. I am assured in my heart of my own integrity, and that is enough.

For my friends I have forced myself to smile through tears, to bite my tongue and hold my breath; always with the threat that if I did not pretend to smile for them, they would leave. But I cannot, I cannot pretend to smile; and even if I did you would see right through me, because for all my performed attention seeking I am too real and too open and too vulnerable to convincingly lie. And it will always be a lie; I don't see why people get so angry about that. I can't change who I am, all I could do is lie, but then you get angry because the painful lies are not convenient truths. And so I will not pretend to smile, anymore. The only thing that sets me apart from everyone else isn't excessive beauty or excessive wealth or excessive talent. People only become Ai Weiweis and avoid becoming Kim Kardashians by refusing to pretend to smile.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

I think you can regret some of the things you did when you were young and stupid, but I don't think you can regret actually being young and stupid. Some of the most intense, exhilarating, amazing moments will happen when you're young and stupid and don't know any better; and you will never quite be able to bring yourself to repeat those moments because the hangover/heartbreak/depression/bankruptcy that follows them is what jolts you out of being young and stupid. You're only brave enough to do things when you're ignorant of the consequences, and I think everyone needs those moments. Eventually you will stop deathwishing that guy or puking at the smell of that drink, but you will remember the reckless things and destructive people who made you happy.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Forgive me
My mistake
I thought
Someone so
Utterly forgivable
Would be

Friday, September 06, 2013

We will welcome her into your cabinet of broken things
We will welcome her with open arms.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

I had to leave my English class to cry. Just for a moment, it all got too much, and so I stood outside in the unseasonably warm almost-September night on the balcony of the old Art building and cried. Two hours later we were no longer friends.

I can't talk when I'm upset; our fights were always defined by long, uncomfortable silences. It freaks people out, because I'm one of those people who has the reputation of one with the inability to shut up, and they think I'm deliberately making them uncomfortable. A lot of people assume that smart people do everything deliberately, but I'm the most reckless and impulsive person I know. Conversely, I mean it when I say I can not talk, rather than I will not talk. I knew something had changed when I was upset and you forced me to talk. Maybe that's when we stopped being friends. But, seeing as I'm not entirely sure when this all started, I guess it makes sense that I'll never know when it actually ended. Does it matter? All that matters is that it ended, and now I am broken. 

But not broken enough to not come back into class, sit down, and argue with my classmates. I wanted to sit there in miserable mopey silence, in the full knowledge that 'miserable mopey silence' translates into 'shit tutorial participation marks', but I couldn't. Somebody said something so wonderfully interesting that I had to have my say. Somebody asked me a question and I couldn't help but answer it, honestly, and therefore controversially, and then I couldn't help but get caught up in the whirlwind of discussion. A discussion that was interrupted by you being a dick one last time, but it almost made me forget. It almost numbed everything, blocked everything out. Somewhere in the tearstains I found this incredible focus, and I knew that I was doing the right thing, I was being the right person, and anyone who didn't agree with me on this account had to be left behind. I have no issue with squabbles and conflict; I am not a peaceful sort of person, and neither are you. But I'm on the right path, I'm doing the right thing, and I'll get to the right place, someday. And you weren't there, in that room, where I spoke loudly and proudly even though my voice quavered with tears. That is who I am. I've never been as strong as you said I was, or brave - but what I lacked in bravery I made up for in bravado. My fearlessness is that I do things even though I'm terrified, because I have to; my fearlessness isn't that I'm not afraid, but that I'll do anything in spite of my fear. Maybe you won't be there anymore, to listen to me, to talk to me, to give me advice and to stand with me when they leave me all alone to fend for myself, but I was alone and abandoned then, and I was doing what I do best, at my best, so I know I'll do just fine. I told you once that maybe happiness isn't my lot in life at the moment; definitely having a friend to stand by me isn't my lot in life at the moment. Maybe my lot in life is that my voice will always quaver with tears, but that's okay. Because my lot in life is also to have a voice that is loud and proud, no matter what. And I'm very okay with that.  

So many things I want to tell you.

I want to tell you that Kyle 2.0 and I actually went to primary school together, although we didn't know each other back then. I want to tell you that they stuffed up and nobody's running for Women's Officer, and I want to see you tut tut and tell me again that I was the best gal for the job. I want to tell you that my friend sounds like death and asked me to pray for him, but I don't know how and it kills me a little bit each day. I want to tell you that I'm sick and scared and I want you to hold me and tell me that everything will be okay. I want to tell you that my anxiety is so bad that that day when you saw me I could barely get out of bed, and that I saw you long before you saw me and cried because I couldn't run to you and kiss you on the cheek like I always could.  

And I want to know how you've been, too. I always wanted to know; it was why I always wanted to see you, because I know that the question that gets the most lies is 'how are you'; people always ask me that now, and I always say something stupid and generic and not-me like 'not bad' or 'pretty good' or 'yeah, okay'. No. I'm not okay. But there's nobody I can say that to anymore. You were the only person who could handle my not being okay. I always had to see you to see that you are good and safe, but now I cannot. But I hope you are happy. I hope you have other people to talk to and other people to make you smile. I hope you miss me. Don't work too hard. Don't stress out so much. Don't hurt yourself at work again. Look where you're going when you're riding that damn bike. Don't eat too many sweets. Be yourself, but remember to be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. And stop skipping those "optional" workshops. 

I wish I told you that just because I say I'm not okay, doesn't mean I assume that you're okay. I wish I told you that just because you upset me doesn't mean that I don't think you never get upset, or that you deliberately tried to upset me. Everything turned into a blame game, but I wish it hadn't. All my life people have blamed themselves for my many deviations from healthy or happy, but I wish they didn't. It is not my fault that I am not healthy or happy, but that doesn't mean it's yours. It just is, and we could have been friends without the fear and blame. But you're only not-quite-eighteen, and I don't think you can handle this quite yet. I am still-just-seventeen and I've never been able to handle it, but you had a choice and I never have and never will. You can turn a blind eye to all the times I spend doubled over in pain or curled up and crying, but I cannot. But that means you have to turn a blind eye to all the times I've smiled with you, laughed with you, talked with you, loved with you. It would have been too much of a sacrifice for me, but that was because you were all that I had. I know you have others. Less complicated people. It's what you deserve. 

And I want to tell you that I'm glad that we were G and Ry until the very end. 

I miss you more than words can say.

I had forgotten that you don't have those messages anymore and are not in the habit of weeping nostalgic and being sentimental. I don't think you remember what you gave up. 

And it's too late now; do you see the finality of this? This isn't just some fight we can spring back from. Words cannot say how much this is hurting me, hurting me more than anything; there is nothing I can do to forget how much this is hurting, or to forgive you for it. I have no-one to talk to, no-one to hold me like you used to. I would have done anything to get that back. 

I cannot let you back in, but if you ever find it in your heart to forgive me, please, come and see me. If you can just tell me to my face that you don't hate me and wish me well, I will be okay. I am sorry, so sorry, more sorry than words can say. 

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

There's something I failed to learn in all my life as a writer; life is a story, but a story with no ending. We love rhyme in our poetry and happy endings to our fairytales because we crave a sense of completeness; but life is a story, or rather a series of stories, that end mid sentence. I let you write a few chapters of my life, and you wrote for me euphoric highs to rescue me from my demons and beautiful, tender, touching moments. You wrote for me guilt and insecurity and worthlessness; you wrote for me confidence and courage and comfort. But your story ended without really ending; you stopped mid sentence, you stopped mid word; a word I can't decipher, because you barely wrote the first letter of it and then you left.

I did not adore you as much as people think I did. I was perfectly capable of speaking harshly of you to my other friends, and I did so on a regular basis. My friends are all accountable to each other, and that has protected me. It is why people are here to catch me now that you have made me fall. I do not like some of them as much as I liked you, and I have complained of them to you. It is important not to do anything silently. 

My comfort is all the things you derided and attempted to wean me off. Other people you don't like, books by people you don't respect, spending time on things you don't believe in, writing things you don't agree with. I could have kept you by cutting them all off, but I will not be dependant on any one thing, or one person. They always told me that part of abuse is isolation, and I thought that meant physically. But you are not the kind of man who would hurt a woman. But there was a kind of emotional, intellectual isolation, from all the things in my life and from myself. You glorified loneliness but could not deal with the burden of my solitude.

I'm okay, really. I know this matters to you in the most selfish way possible; you don't like the guilt of hurting people. You would rather I pretend to be okay because when I fall apart you see how implicit you are in my pain. I hope it affects you; I hope this affects you the way it affects me. I hope you miss me now that I'm gone. This is my selfishness.

My irrationality always ends up making sense; I don't know if this is paranoia creating its own catastrophes or just really good intuition on my part. I was always so afraid of you becoming like this, because I always saw it in you; it was an achievement, to go a day without your indifference or malice or cruelty. It was an achievement, to pass so much time with your care and affection; you are not the kind of person who is all too liberal with that, and I don't know if that makes you cold or if it makes me weak. I do not know what you saw in me to make me worthy of your attention, but apparently that is not the case now. You always treated your time like a precious commodity and that I should be honoured to live in the scraps of it. That's not how friendship works. We are all too busy for everything, but there is something insane in us that makes us wake up at stupid hours and go to bed at even stupider ones for the people who are important to us. I was never important enough for that.

I feel kind of guilty giving you all this friend advice when I am nothing but a terrible friend. I warned you, but you didn't listen. I warned you, but now you are hurt. I suppose I never listened to you either, so maybe we are even.

I've been forcing myself to read over our last fight to desensitise, and it is working. But I can't bear to scroll up beyond then. It is easy to leave behind your anger and neglect, your blatant condescension and pointless cruelty. I can't bring myself to read all of our smiley conversations, not yet. I can't bring myself to relive your kindness, and your affection that seemed all at once overwhelmingly intense and whimsically ethereal. It's too hard to think of your hugs and smiles and winks and whispers and kisses.

I wish I had never met you. I wish I could go back to when I admired you from a distance as something annihilating and untouchable. I wish I had never known what a joy you are as a friend and how cold you can be when you I let you close enough to hurt me. I wish I had not been broken and I wish you had not taken it upon yourself to fix me, and then break me again. I wish a lot of things, you know.

I've just finished reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, a book I know you will never read; but you should, because it would make you less of an asshole, but one of your many endearing traits is that you wear that like a badge of honour. It's the first time I've read one of these death lit books and not wanted to jump of a cliff; I know what it's like to be sick, probably not on that kind of scale, but more than your average cold. Having my demons and being hospitalized because your heart sucks at being a heart is very different, but at the same time exactly the same. This idea that all sick people are self-martyred angels resigned to their fate is ridiculous; the vast majority of us are attention seeking narcissists who shamelessly exploit sympathy, because we can. We don't want to be defined by our illnesses, but it's simply not possible for illness to be ignored. I have a heart condition whether it is acknowledged or not. Whether or not you show me any kind of care or consideration, I still have my demons. It is expected that sick people always attempt to brush aside their pain, but when you're sick pain is a part of who you are, and your friends are supposed to accept you for who you are. What you did to me wasn't nice, but what I was doing to you wasn't nice either; the difference is that I would have stopped it if I had any way to. I don't know if you could say the same.

Wordless Wednesday: Paint Art

I remember in our last conversation when we were talking about how the people in our lives impact us in those little idiosyncratic things we do that we like to think of as our own, but they're all copied from other people; people we've loved, people we've hated, people we've forgotten, people we remember all too well. It was an interesting thing to hear, from someone like you; someone who so vehemently detests being told that you're not being yourself.

The important people in our lives leave imprints. They may stay or go in the physical realm, but they are always there in your heart, because they helped form your heart. There's no getting over that. I remember those times when I felt safe and warm and loved with you and that is a great part of the strength that I need to get through each day. There are little things about me that were yours and are now mine. I don't regret that, I don't regret that at all.

I can't absolve you, though; and I know that was what you were looking for. All through our time together you have always tried to guilt me into thinking that everything is my fault; you always apologised until now, but the blame was still there. I cannot absolve you from your implicity in my pain; and I would not even if I could. In your life there will be people who hurt you and people you hurt, and you're just going to have to live with that. You might not deserve your hurt, in the same way that I don't deserve to be periodically anaesthetised and flayed open, but you need that, you need that to help you enjoy the good times, to appreciate the times when you're not in pain. And the people you hurt might fill you with guilt and self-loathing and regret, but you need that, too; you need that to realize your capacity to inflict pain and to control it as best you can. I would be doing you a great disservice by absolving you.

You created your own monster; you were the one who told me to go out there and be myself, and now I am so hopelessly addicted to that I could not be anything else if I tried. You were the one who contacted me, you were the one who gave everything and you were the one who took everything back. I think you enjoyed that; I think you enjoyed being a friend to someone rendered so passive. The kisses were fine when it was you and not me. The games were fine when you started them and I didn't. The debates and arguments and endless hours of chatting our lives away were fine when you wanted them, but not when I needed them. You told me to be myself, but you did not know who I was. I am sorry if I disappointed you on that account.

I think you, like most people I know, have romanticized mental illness. I think you have romanticized the idea of the fragile little girl needing a shoulder to cry on. I think you have romanticized the image of a pretty but untouched sixteen year old innocent. I think you have romanticized the idea of being the last man standing for the lonely nerd nobody wants or cares about. I think you have romanticized the strong, defiant, outspoken woman. I don't think you realized what a burden it is to be a friend to someone with demons like mine, I don't think you realized how needy and dependent broken people can be, I don't think you realized how permanent and consuming first experiences can be for someone like me, I don't think you realized that being my friend means you will inevitably cop some of the shit that is always being tossed my way, I don't think you realized that if you teach me to stand up to others I will end up standing up to you. I did not know what it would be like, to be your friend; I learned it was wonderful, exhilarating, beautiful, but also lonely and heartbreaking and confusing. I didn't know and came to it with no expectations. You cannot always expect me to be good and kind and loving. There will always be times when I will be cold and thoughtless and hard to understand. Friends, like spouses and children and family and everyone else who makes life wonderful, are burdens. There will be times when you feel unloved and uncared for; believe me, you have made me feel all of that plenty of times. Friendships, like all relationships, require commitment. Sometimes you have to realize that friends are not infallible and sometimes there will be times when their only choice is to either lean on you or fall over; part of being a friend is realizing that sometimes people lean on you not because they want to, or to make you feel hurt or heavy, but because they love and trust you enough to let you carry them until they can walk again, and because they love and trust you enough to do the same for you. People need to break down, sometimes, and they need people who will honour their promise to not leave. It is easy to be friends when everything is sunshine and roses; real friends stay during crises. You need real friends during those times when you cannot walk and your only choice is to lean on someone or to fall over. You let me fall over, but I will pick myself up.

I know you and I are very different and that is why we cannot be friends, but I think you know that we are more similar than you like to admit; I think that you see the worst of yourself when you see the worst in me - I certainly did. It is an uncomfortable feeling, isn't it? We are all hyperaware of our faults, but seeing them in other people is intolerable. You realize that forgiving yourself means that you have to forgive people like me, and some of the things I do are unforgivable. It's hard when you realize that you are unforgivable, like everyone else who has lived or will ever live.

I do not doubt that you have people who are willing to be more indulgent with you than I ever could be; I do not doubt that these people somehow manage to maintain some kind of dignity and integrity whilst doing so. You are so easy to love, and so easy to forgive - which is a blessing and a curse, I suppose. I am sorry I could not indulge you; I wish I could. But it got to the point where I could not indulge you without shutting part of myself out, and over these last two years I have become accustomed to living half a life.

There is something that we always admire in people when we first get to know them; idealism. I know that because my only selling point in the sell-yourself game known as guild politics is that I am an idealist; a very young idealist, so young that they have to sneak both me and my idealism into licensed premises. That kind of idealism is appealing, but absurdly impractical; inevitably we watch as we and the people we love become the cynics we used to mock. I admired your idealism and optimism because I am not a naturally optimistic person; it was something I experienced vicariously through you. You have a great gift for hope, but also a predisposition towards become one of those people who's life savours of anticlimax. The brightest stars burn out the fastest and you are blinding. That was my great worry for you, back when I was still allowed to care for you.

How difficult I must seem, to be so attention seeking and yet so reclusive. You were always trying to coax me out of my shell because that's what friends do, but you were not prepared for the person who always remains hidden. We have romanticized coming out, in every sense of the term, without considering why something must be hidden in the first place. Your idealism was that I should have no shame in a society defined by shame and shaming; you did not stop to think why I was forced to hide so much of myself in the first place. In all the movies everyone turns out to be more or less normal, and deviations from normal are 'attention seeking'; we fail to realize that for some people, abnormality is the norm and being normal is our way of seeking attention. We are all attention seekers, as much as you might detest them; you cannot judge anyone for that. We have created industries and empires upon the desire for attention and you are a part of that machine whether you like it or not. I think we have romanticized reclusiveness because we have shamed attention seeking so much. And you have no right to shame me or anyone else for that; break up with your girlfriend, cut off all your other friends and move somewhere far away with no human company before you dare tell me that I should not attempt to cure my loneliness with a bit of attention.

I spoke only the truth when I told you that people lie, and then they leave; you are the epitome of that. Nothing you have ever said to me holds true now, and now you are gone just like all the rest of them. I suppose I must have seemed broken and resigned when I said it and you, as my ever faithful and loving friend, attempted to banish those thoughts away from me. I did not doubt you when you said you would never leave; it is one of the only things you have said to me with genuine sincerity, now that I have the benefit of retrospect. But I did not think that your presence made the statement any less true; I know that what you mean one day can hold no water the next day - it was a recurring theme of yours, and a constant source of pain for me. People lie, and then they leave, and yet we still want them. But I do not want you, anymore; I wanted the boy who used to drop everything and run to me whenever I cried, I wanted the boy who was genuine and charming and had that smile that made you feel like he was irresistibly prejudiced in your favour. I wanted the boy who sincerely wanted me to be happy and apologised sincerely for causing me pain. I wanted the boy who could see past everything else and saw me for what I am. I wanted the boy who realized I was broken and put me back together, and then held me tight so that I would not fall apart again. I don't know what happened to him, but he's long gone and his ghost had a great capacity for cruelty and indifference that I cannot bear. I know you think you have not changed, but maybe when you have the benefit of retrospect you will see what I mean. Nonetheless, I wish you all the best, because I know that somewhere behind all the spite and exasperation my friend is still here and you are all that remains of him. I don't know if you're still here, but it doesn't matter. I know you know all of this. I hope one day I will find someone like you and you will find someone like me, and I hope all of this will have taught us how to treat these people with a little more decency, and to afford them a little more dignity.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

When you consider power - who has power, who can take power, who or what gives power, what power does to the powerful and the powerless; it is worth noting that not all kinds of power are seen and recognised by the public eye. Privilege is a silent power; silent because it is barely understood, rarely considered and never acknowledged. We are all implicit in the ways in which privilege alters the gendered, racial and economic dynamics of society; the silent but unquestioned authority of being male or white or rich or heterosexual or cisgender. We are so accustomed to the unwritten hierarchy of privilege that we think of our privileges as universal rights. Someone from a privileged group may not exploit or even realize their own privilege; but unlike other kinds of power, privilege is wielded involuntarily and without much thought. We all benefit from privilege, even though we refuse to acknowledge its existence in our sophisticated, civilized, individualistic, opportunistic world.


Now Playing: Roar by Katy Perry (I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess, so I sat quietly, agreed politely)

I have forgotten how to be passive.

Being passive is something that is expected of women; all women, even the ones who are valued for being smart and strong and sarcastic. A female activist is 'cute', but should bow down to male discourse; otherwise you're being a bitch or not listening to advice or not being a good friend. And these aren't just abstract political of philosophical opinions; even things like consent or standing up to physical or emotional abuse is frowned upon. I keep getting whacked over the head with 'nobody's perfect' and I know that, I know that all too well - believe me, I am the last person I would describe as 'perfect'. But that doesn't mean we should be endlessly tolerant, or penalized for being defiant. Being passive is not empowering or strong and should not be an obligation. We expect women to live their lives in caretaker mode; it's fine to have opinions, but 'for the sake of my marriage' or 'for our friendship' women are supposed to eventually back down.

I can't do that. I can't do that anymore.

I have always had a predisposition towards defiance; in my younger and more vulnerable days I was broken as all teenagers are and I sat down and shut up. The only outlet I had for all my opinions and anger and passion was my blog, but back then a grand total of about two people read my blog, so it felt like a safe space for me to vent; like a diary. I've always been shy and anxious and insecure, and that really did impact the way I express myself; it's why I turned to things like poetry and art, which can be very provocative and jarring but at the same time abstract and easy to defend. But as my audience grew, I couldn't stop being me. It's addictive, knowing that you're being someone so genuine and sincere that it scares people. I can't stop being me.

My life is one long argument, and sometimes it's hard. Sometimes it's easier to just nod and say 'whatever you like' or 'I don't mind', when you do, when you do mind, and it kills you. Sometimes it's easier to sweep things under the carpet or let things slide, let yourself be amused by something funny or soothed by attempts to make up for things that shouldn't have even happened in the first place. You have to stand up for yourself, even against people you love; because sometimes they're the ones who most need reminding. Conflict is an inevitable part of defiance, but I'm not going to stop that. I am who I am, and I was born to be kind of explosive and provocative. Take it or leave it.

I was broken, and someone put me back together and broke me again. And that's okay, you know; there's always a little voice in the back of my head, quietly saying that I will try again tomorrow. I'll be my own hero in this next chapter of my life, because that's nothing less than what I deserve. There's only one person who will be with me from the very beginning to the very end, and that's me. I'm tired of being collateral damage, and I'm tired of people becoming my collateral damage on my way to growing up. I've learned to be lonely, and I've learned how to be alone. There's nothing I can't do for myself, and that's all it's going to be, for now; for myself.

You must forgive me my desire to write to you; it has become something of a habit of mine. I think what I will miss most are the conversations we will never have.

I beg your forgiveness for anything I have done to hurt you, and can only ask that you remember old times, for my sake, and remember me fondly. I know I was not an easy friend to have and, for my part, I could not have hoped for a better friend. It was my greatest joy to be your friend, even for only this short time. I understand that my demons are too much to ask anyone to bear with me, but I ask that you think of me with some indulgence; I never meant to hurt you, and if I had any way of being an easier and better friend to have I would have done it. 

I must confess that I am not altogether surprised at how things have come to be; I think I have always known, deep down, that I am not the sort of person who can make you happy. I think I always knew that we were so different and at such different times of our lives, and I think I always knew it would end too soon and too badly; but I barged ahead anyway, because that's just what I do. They say that Anne Boleyn must have known for a time her fate; I think I had my Anne Boleyn moment. For my part, I have no regrets. I would do it all again if I had the chance. 

As for me, I am somewhat broken; I will make no attempt to hide it because nobody can live their life guiltless and that includes you. I have learned now not to believe people when they say that they love me, or that they will never think badly of me, or that they will not leave me. You said them all and one by one they have proven false and I am not entirely sure who to blame. But I will try my hardest not to let my bitterness and resentment colour my memory of you; I am trying to preserve the things I think of to keep me going as best I can, unsullied so that I may always think fondly of the time I was your friend. If I can accomplish that then all this would have been worth it. 

I am selfish and arrogant enough to hope that you will not forget me; I hope you will remember that when you were seventeen you used to drop everything and run to the little girl who cried. I hope you will remember all the little moments that are so precious to me, and remember all the times you made me smile. I had hoped to enjoy your big warm hugs and your beautiful smile for a little while longer, but I will always remember you fondly and I hope, after all that has been between us, when you see me you can give me your smile. I hope you remember that I loved you sincerely and genuinely tried to care for you as best as I could.  

I wish nothing but the best for you; I hope that you stay good and safe and be happy. If I could offer you some advice, it is only to say that you should not live your life attempting to minimize your pain, or the pain of others. You are doing yourself a great disservice, and you do others a great disservice even when I know you always mean well. Things hurt because they matter. Things hurt because they mean something, and that is an important thing to acknowledge to yourself. I am hurting, badly, now, but I will be okay. It hurts because you mattered, and although I am not glad of the tears I am glad to be living a life filled with people who matter. Being your friend, like most things I have done in my life, hurt beyond belief; but you have to live life to the fullest, even if that means experiencing a lot of pain to make the sweet times sweeter. 

 It's one in the morning and I don't know how long it's going to take to feel okay. I know you will not spend too much time dwelling on it, because I know you too well. I don't mind. You are what you are, and I loved you for it. Truly. 

Stay Beautiful. 

Sunday, September 01, 2013

(self portrait)


I would you was with me now that you might see
What pain I take in writing to you
Everyone, it seems, knows too well
The care and affection between us
Everyone, it seems, but me and you

I have here no friends
And much less impartial counsel
I know my temper flares yours but
It was all real, you know
You know how I detest insincerity

I beg you to tell me of my offences
And your grievances
I will speak nothing against it
My trust is always in you
That you will be as you have promised me

And these are all things so strange to me
How to talk, how to love, how to care
How to make it through each day
Without my demons, or yours
Please teach me gently how to breathe

If any person will meddle of my cause
I require them to judge the best
You must all know I was not ready for this life
I thought to be dead and past my pain

No more, for fear of tiring you
I heartily recommend me unto you
Praying you to send me word how that you do.

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