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Relational Definition

The idea of relational definitions has comforted me for years, ever since I came across it in my literary structures class in college.

There’s something beautiful in being able to define something by everything it isn’t – dark would be less meaningful without light. Comparison as a tool for understanding, for communicating, for building! That is when language is most open to me. It allows me to restructure the world, organizing it in my head by the comparable textures of each moment.

I’ve never appreciated that as much as I do now.

I can only explain how happy I am by comparing myself to the girl I used to be. Then and only then do I see my development, the remarkable little miracles that led me exactly where I am and who I love. It’s so odd to me, the thought that I used to be insurmountably lonely – that I thought there was an incurable darkness inside me that made me unworthy of care and affection.

After I met my boyfriend, I wrote a few pieces about him (and about me, about the type of woman I saw myself becoming with him). I gave him two of those poems for his birthday yesterday. The third poem is a little more selfish. When we started talking, I was terrified of the idea that he could make me happy. I was scared I couldn’t sustain happiness, that my hands would break every beautiful thing that passed between them. Here’s that piece.

Disordered

What if my heart is like
my stomach?

don’t laugh

what if both shrink when I
starve for affection? What if the walls
have caved in, what if acid has swallowed the floor
and settled in every chamber, what if
the valves roar in protest when I pass
couples on the street,
what if I can’t remember the last time
I was full?

It took three months
to train my body to receive anything stronger
than eye contact – to relearn how it feels
to taste something so vulnerable and soft
without vomiting.

 

So I wrote the above about being afraid and ill-equipped and only now, with comparison and reflection, can I understand just how lucky I am to have Joey.

Happy birthday, bee. ❤

joey and mee

 

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23

I don’t know if anyone else thinks I’m as interesting as I do and it shows in the way I tell stories, which is to say constantly and with very dramatic pauses.

That might be a character flaw, but no one in my life has complained about it thus far. I don’t imagine they’d start today – but that’s because today is my birthday. I am twenty-three years old and I find that completely fascinating. Every year, I reflect on what I’ve learned, how I’ve stumbled, where I need to go, and every year I am surprised that I have reached this age.

It’s hard to explain without getting into the nitty and the gritty, the blood and tears and endless dark nights that threatened to over-saturate my personhood, but I never imagined reaching 19 years old. I’ve been shocked at every birthday since.

But this is not a sad story. This is a happy story because it leads to you and I, existing in this digital space, sharing in a positive revelation – I am twenty-three years old today. I have made it around the sun again.

I am pervasive. I, too, am amazed.

So yes, I talk about myself. I write about myself. It is the surest path to understanding and loving myself – which, at present moment, I do, but in the way one might love a painting or museum exhibit. I will only get better in time. Until then, I’d like to share a bit of silliness with you.

If you don’t know me outside of my blog or we rarely speak in the three-dimensional world, you probably don’t understand how much of a loon I am. Yesterday I burnt up the highway in an epic car dance party…by myself…while dressed as a stereotypical secretary. I make faces at babies, even when adults are trying to hold conversations with me. I think it’s important to tell animals how handsome they are, especially when they’re old, and I expect everyone in the vicinity to compliment my cat whenever she’s near. I always believe libraries, pharmacies, and grocery stores are closed on Sundays even though THAT’S ABSURD. When I want to express my love for my friends via pictures and SnapChat, I will inevitably close my eyes – because that’s how cats say I love you. I treat people like children, {hopefully} not in a condescending fashion, but instead like a proud first grade teacher who just wants you to know how wonderful you are.

I am unabashedly proud of the person I’m becoming. I am happy with the love I am able to give and the quality of the people who surround me. I cannot believe that I am here, that I am open, that I am loud and silly and kind. The best compliment I have ever received came from my therapist in college. I had just finished cry/laughing about trauma, as I am wont to do, and my therapist handed me a tissue.

“Wow,” he said. I’m blanking on his name now, but my therapist was so compassionate. He looked like a sweet badger, the kind that children faun over, and I felt safe in his office.

“What?” I wiped the mascara from under my eyes, my fingers coated in its black residue.

“Your experiences could’ve made you hard, they could’ve made you mean, but you took everything in and decided to become soft instead.”

I sat in his overstuffed armchair for a while, mouth open, as I processed his words. Before that moment, I had not realized that I had made any decision at all.

Here’s to another year of softness, of separating the ideas of vulnerability and weakness, of telling stories even when my voice shakes. Here’s to another year of pervasiveness, to growing beyond my wildest dreams, to taking the world piece by piece. Here’s to the people who got me here, to those who did not give up even when I had, to those who challenge me, to those who hear my stories first.

And, of course, here’s to you. Thank you so much for listening.

avatar_1465705473826

 

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