sometimes I dream of my baby teeth –
of rearranging the tiny white mounds into messages
outside his bedroom door
I can almost feel their smoothness against
my palm. it hurts but I
write on, spelling out secrets on the carpet
wiping the blood from my chin
the door, closed,
the lock pressed inward – he is afraid
of the bone. he doesn’t know
what it means
the man leaves me in silence
with my tongue,
probing the sore and weeping craters of
with my tongue
held and tied and angry.
I know exactly what I want to say and every reason that I’m not speaking clearly.
There lies within me a desperate desire to be understood – to speak and to be accepted, as if the very nature of my ideas could make me less vital to the people who I love. It isn’t unique or particularly interesting, but it’s there and it’s an important context to bear in mind when I falter in my ability to speak.
Those moments always move me off-center as I try to predict my conversation partner’s response before uttering a word – as I try to balance the human need for understanding and the intense discomfort of vulnerability. For as much as I preach vulnerability and the sharing of stories, even I have to admit that the very act shakes me to my core (and beyond, often keeping me up at night as my anxiety replays every syllable, breath by breath, assuring me that somehow my stories have ruined something new).
In other words, it’s fucking terrifying.
The stories I want to share are often so much bigger than me – they are loud and sad and hard to hear, but they matter. They matter. So I am careful. I practice conversations dozens of times before sitting down with someone. I rehearse. I edit. But sometimes I misspeak, or break down, or stay silent when I should raise my voice. I am still trying to figure out how to be the person I want to be.
Thank you for reading, especially with an open heart. Thank you for tolerating my odd silences whenever my tongue unravels. Thank you especially to the friends who have taught me the value of speaking, of sharing, of opening wounds in order to clean them out.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.