It’s an inch layer thick, it’s a pick-up-stick, it’s a way to fall in line.
It’s a mask you wear, it’s so debonair, but at the same time, so contrived.
And you brush your teeth with steel wool and you comb your hair with flames.
And everything that once fell apart will fall together the same.
Do you even know who you are today? Would you recognize your name?
If it appeared to you, as if to say, “Hey you! You’re a pawn in this game.”
You’re a loner, a rebel, an outcast. A last god among men.
But your lone wolf pack has grown weary, and moved onward once again.
You’re a solitary M&M in a bag of otherwise boring trail mix.
But this bag of mix is a sack of shit. You’re a hypocrite! You’re a hypocrite!
So take your gold plated emblems, and your trophies and your smile,
And walk them away from, move them away from, take them away for a while.
I simply cannot bear to watch your life erode away
Your armor will tarnish; your shield won’t gleam,
and nothing is ever as good as it seems.
So take off that mask, toss it aside, I hope that you know that you don’t have to hide.
Eventually all of your fears will subside,
The only thing wrong is what’s wrong in your mind.
Fête champêtre, Fête galante, C’est masquerade, C’est farce!
Remove your mask, no need to hide
If you never look, then you’ll never find
Un petit peu de toi heureux
Arrêtez-vous! Arrêtez-vous! Maintenant!
(It was hiding right here all this time)
Humans are animals. And like animals, we have an ingrained “fight or flight” response to stressors in our lives.
This is what gives us the ability to avoid dying when a car makes a strange maneuver in traffic and we have to get the fuck out of the way.
Or, it tells us to lie down in the street, opossum style, and hope the car just magically passes over us and we avoid death.
This is the strategy I also like to invoke when I’m faced with danger in social situations.
…It doesn’t always work.
But one key difference between humans and, say, squirrels, is that as humans we have an advanced capacity to feel emotions.
I’m sure cats and dogs feel things like happiness and sorrow, but they probably don’t get as advanced as existential questions about our existence.
Nor do cats have the tendency to fall obsessively in love with someone and try to stalk them.
And your dog probably won’t slash your tires for sleeping with your best friend when you were out of town visiting your parents.
But, emotions are wonderful. For the most part, I love being able to feel things. It makes life more interesting.
Sometimes though, as humans, we use our emotions for strange things.
For instance, we have this ability to use our emotions to suppress our “fight or flight” response.
And this makes us do really stupid things.
So there will be situations in which our little primitive animal brains are literally yelling at us to STOP FUCKING DOING WHATEVER WE’RE DOING AND RUN and our little emotional human brains will say “oh no dear, you’re just being silly. this is fine. calm the fuck down. put your pants back on. you’re a big girl. shhhh…”
I know this is true because I’ve done it.
Here’s a perfect example:
I was dating a guy for nearly four years. It wasn’t the most perfect of relationships, but that isn’t the point. He cheated on me then broke up with me via text message. It was traumatic to say the least.
He and I, obviously, didn’t speak for awhile after that. But six months later, in an unexpected rush of optimism, I decided that maybe it was time for us to be “friends” again.
So I contacted him. And he immediately responded in a rush of guilty “I’m sorries” that didn’t really fix anything, but made my ego feel nice and cozy.
So he and I started hanging out again, as friends.
Then we started making out again, as friends.
Then we started dating again (?), as friends…
On most of these “dates that weren’t really dates because we’re just friends” my ex took me downtown drinking.
I fully supported this idea, because when he and I were actually dating, we never went downtown drinking.
In fact, for most of our relationship, he despised alcohol. I didn’t really question this new behavior because I was getting free drinks out of the deal. So I just kind of went along for the ride.
Now, I’m kind of a lightweight, but I know my limits when it comes to alcohol. I never drink more than I can handle.
But, for some reason, on these “dates” I would be only one drink in or so, and I’d start feeling very anxious. Overwhelmingly anxious.
And this wasn’t just my normal, constant level of anxiety I carry with me every day. This was near “I’m literally a deer standing in traffic” levels of anxiety.
I soon realized what was happening. Not only was alcohol suppressing my inhibitions, but alcohol was suppressing my normal human tendency to Ignore my fight or flight response.
Since I had begun talking to my ex again, my brain had been screaming things at me like “NOOOOOOOOOOO STOOPPPPPP WHYYYYYY” and I’d been ignoring it.
But with alcohol in my system, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.
As I sat outside of a bar with my ex, I was overcome with a feeling I can only describe as eating day old sushi, swallowing a pound of pop rocks, washing it down with a 2 liter of mountain dew, then riding the incredible hulk during a thunderstorm.
In short: I vomited everywhere.
It was gross.
But, this guy I was with, being a gentleman, held my hair back while I puked.
My sickness was so bad, it attracted the attention of a bouncer who came over to ask my guy friend if “his girlfriend” was alright.
My ex responded, in the most soothing voice he could muster, at the top of his lungs, “YEAH NO THANKS MY EX GIRLFRIEND IS FINE I DON’T KNOW WHY SHE’S GETTING SICK. THANK YOU”
Which just made me vomit more.
Now, you would think that this happening once would have been enough to wake me up to the reality that I should not have been hanging out with this guy.
Once was not enough.
It happened two more times.
I puked, in public, downtown, while out with this guy, two more times in two weeks.
Each time, I’d only had 1 or 2 drinks.
It was around the time that he insisted on reminding me that he “wasn’t looking for a relationship” that I FINALLY learned my lesson and stopped seeing him.
But, shit. My animal brain was trying SO HARD to get me to stop seeing him.
Some people can’t see their exes because those people are abusive assholes.
I can’t see my ex because not only do I have an adverse emotional reaction, but I have an adverse physical reaction as well.
MY EX BOYFRIEND LITERALLY MAKES ME VOMIT.
*In the time since I’ve stopped seeing this guy, I haven’t once been sick due to alcohol consumption.
We are all selfish beings at some level. Sometimes it’s a matter of survival, sometimes it’s a matter of ego. Regardless, we always think our stories stand apart from other people’s, that we are somehow inherently above or below them based on our own subjective assumptions.
Love is no different. Falling in love is believing you’re the exception to someone’s rule. What we don’t realize is that our feeling of exemption doesn’t actually shield us from becoming collateral damage.
We start believing that how someone treats other people is not indicative of how they will treat us. Friends forewarn us. Red flags wave. We ignore it all in lieu of the hope, the expectation, that it will just be different with us. The danger never registers, we never allow it to. We start believing that we will be the one who saves them, who reasons with them, who changes them.
You can never…
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My window is a place to escape my fate
I could leave any time I choose.
But instead I’ll stay inside, I’m a prisoner in my mind
And I’d rather be a prisoner here with you.
I watch the streets below, the people look like ants
Going about their business – Business ants.
If it rains outside, I don’t mind.
If it storms or if it pours, I just sit back and watch the show from the safety of my window
I hang my mind out to dry, on a clothesline from my window to yours
It’s the only time I go outside.
I wave in the breeze like a bird on a cloud
But unlike those birds, I cannot fly.
I’m just hanging here to dry.
I pack my brain back in my head, close the blinds, go inside.
Continue to live a lie.
I wish that I could leave, but I simply cannot go.
Because leaving would mean leaving you alone.
I’m tethered to the ground
There’s a place between flying and falling.
In what, I don’t know.
I can only tell you I love you in a poem. Only on stage can I express how I feel.
I can write a thousand songs for you and it will be the most intimate thing I’ve ever done.
Because I’m separated. You’re in the audience and I’m on stage. I’m safe here. You can’t get me. You can’t stop me.
My words have nothing to do with you and everything to do with my feelings.
Let me express myself.
Let me be me. Let me love you.
I’m sorry you can’t accept it. I’m sorry that you don’t understand it. It’s not for you to understand. It’s a gift.
It’s something I’m giving you: freely, willingly, wantingly.
But I’m suspended. I’ll never hit the ground.
And if I do hit the ground, I’ll hit the ground running. And I’ll take off and I’ll leave you behind, trembling in the wake of my words.
You make me feel sorry that I love you.
It’s a strange guilt. It’s an emotion I wish I could take back.
It’s something I wish I could stop myself from feeling. Stop it entirely: Put a stopper on it, don’t let it go, keep it all inside.
Don’t tell them how you feel, they won’t understand. They’ll just see it as surface value, they’ll tell you you’re crazy.
They’ll tell you you’re being “overdramatic.”
But you’re not.
It’s an earnest feeling, it’s a valid feeling. It’s a feeling of all feelings.
And I’m in touch with mine, are you in touch with yours?
You’re dead inside, and I can feel it when I’m around you.
It’s not a permanent death, it’s a sleeping death. It’s one you won’t wake from till you’re ready.
And nothing I can do can compel you to wake up. TO WAKE UP!
You’ve been sleeping for too long.
If I just lie here
and try to forget
I’ll wake up refreshed
And wantonly extinguished.
Unconquerable. Inconsequential. Consequences. Sequences. Sequential. Cylindrical. Cyclical. Cynical.
Burn your resolutions down, tie them to the that stupid colored shroud you’ve begun to carry with you.
You burning horrible son-of-a-bitch
eating my soul
and feeding it to other unsuspecting infants who don’t need the excess nourishment.
[An unusual turn of events for something so unusually predictable…]
And my skin is falling off, can you pick it up for me?
I must find a way to paste it back on.
Paste it upon some remnant of something that used to be my life.
But no blood, never any blood.
It just wouldn’t come.
[But wouldn’t go if it did.]
And it keeps falling, despite my best efforts to keep it in place.
Can’t hold on to something so resistant to my touch, to something so extinguishable.
With nothing but a single glance.
The future burns a quiet hole in all that we’ve got left of the present.
[Just torch it.]
I isolate myself because I am a time-bomb of emotions.
I am solitary, and I can barely keep it contained, how am I supposed to control myself in public?
Excuses, excuses, excuses, excuses.
Avoid these people, don’t go there, don’t say that, don’t touch me don’t touch me DON’T TOUCH ME.
I arrive early, but I sit in the parking lot for 15 minutes bracing myself for impact.
I put on my uniform: a suit of armor that I wear to protect myself from the outside world. It’s tarnished from years of use.
It’s patched and frayed but I still wear it every day.
I take a breath and step into a room filled with familiar strangers.
Suddenly, without warning, a sensation begins to build in my chest. It’s one I’ve grown accustomed to.
This is the battle I fight daily.
I prepare myself for war as the burning spreads: first to my shoulders, then trickling down to my wrists to tingle in my fingertips.
It spreads to my face as my cheeks turn red with warmth. I’m embarrassed.
But no one even sees me. I’m embarrassed to be in this room. I’m embarrassed because I exist.
The pounding in my chest is incessant. I wonder if the strangers can hear the thumping too?
This feeling washes over my body in a continuous ebb and flow.
There’s an ocean in my lungs: a tumultuous sea, dammed by my own inability to understand myself.
And I can’t let it go out of fear that I might drown passersby.
And you! You call yourself my friend and you’re willing to brave these waters, but YOU. CAN’T. SWIM!
You didn’t even bring a lifejacket.
I’m willing to take off this armor and expose this sea of emotions, but I don’t want you to drown!
Please, learn how to swim.
I can hold my breath forever. Don’t worry about me.