On friendships

by MB


We circled around each other - or our friendship did. It danced and jumped figure eights - forward and backward and forward again - moved and unmoved.  

We could not break from this pattern because we were stuck in this period of rhythmic stasis. Founded on old stories and memories, we had no choice but to repeatedly face the past. In doing so we stunted ourselves. We cut short the stories that brought us here, but did not enable them to build. 


Drip [September 3] - Denial of the those things for whom denial is impossible.

by MB


Written September 3  

Sweat . Rain. Tears.

The sky's mood abets my heart - as close to fantastical thinking as I'll ever come. My body - creature of the earth - falls prey. She cannot avoid nature nor can she escape its inflictions. Marks and bruises down her skull, tears in her heart. Thousands of ways to mark the passing of time, yet she chooses tears.

Swallowed by grief, an emotion familiar to her. Knots of raindrops in her throat, thunder blaring beneath the sockets of her eyeballs. Heartbeat staccato insomnia. 

Wishing away the days of the year as though they are endless, as though life has not reminded her enough of its power to deprive you of its very existence.

Fists clenched to sky - why, God, why? - a refrain familiar in its fantastical haunting. 

Willing the phone to chirp.


Your Funeral (drafted 24/8)

by MB


I attended your funeral on Friday. My presence there was accidental, a coincidence of events too absurd to be possible.

I met your son, Stephen. 

You don't know me, but I was a patient of your mom's. She saved my life. 

I asked him how he was doing. He said he was ok, given the circumstances. I can imagine that's what you would have wanted him to say. And he did look ok, I promise. So did your husband - who I did not meet but who I saw, from a distance. 

She was an incredible person, I told him. As if he didn't know. 

I cried so hard I couldn't breathe. I fought to choke back the tears in my throat. I checked my collarbone, hand over heart, in part to confirm my heart - the pieces that are left of it at least - was still beating. I took pictures and collected service cards, looking for something, anything to keep you alive.

He turned to me. said what I said today because I really meant it. It is comforting, at least a little, to know that she didn't have much time left - there was nothing they could do. It made me feel a little better, a little less "why god why" (fists shaking at the ceiling) to know that it happened so fast.

We weren't robbed of too much time. 

I don't believe in heaven, but I do wonder if you were there. Looking down at the beautiful people in that room. The room where I almost got married. 


Written June 30, 2014

by MB


(Originally written June 30, 2014)

The hardest part of writing, I've come to believe, is confrontation. When you are forced to look at your thoughts, bare and shameful and there, and acknowledge yourself as their creator. The human in which insecurities and anxieties fester and dwell. 

My modus operandi has always been predicated on avoidance. You cannot confront something that is not present. If you don't talk about it, if you pay it no attention and deny its existence, you will not have to deal with it. A persistent denial of recognition, my mind would have me believe, can eventually eradicate a problem entirely.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Writing, especially in the form of a journal or personal essay, does not indulge this fantastical way of thinking. It produces a tangible product from the throes of abstraction. What was once your greatest worry is transformed, abruptly, into an even more terrifying reality.

This is my attempt to unearth the roots of my tendency to withdraw, to shut down. 

 


DE

by MB


I cannot believe you are gone. 

You can’t be gone.  

Keeper of my thoughts. My fears and my judgements. My adolescence and it’s traumas, my first boyfriend through my husband.  

Caretaker of my soul. My darkest moments - an abyss of fear. 

Calling to wish me a happy new year each fall just because. A text to say you’re thinking of me. A reference to my mother in therapy - stiff and unwilling - a well of empathy enough to fulfilll my insatiable needs.  

You know more about me than I ever will. Where does it go? Did you take it with you? 

A collection of memories cannot sustain me.  

I love you. Thank you. 

With love, 

A self cleaning oven. The endless wishes of the well.  


(Not) the last NY day

by MB


The trick to quitting smoking (or to changing any habit) is to recognize that your identity—that elaborate mental framework you devised in your mind and labeled “me”—doesn’t actually exist. It is arbitrary. It is a facade. And it can be raised or dropped at will. You are not a smoker. You are a person who chooses to smoke. You are not a night person. You are a person who chooses to be active at night and sleep through the morning. You are not unproductive. You are a person who currently chooses to do things that do not feel useful. You are not unloveable. You are a person who currently feels unloved.

[...] 

Your identity is this made up thing that you’re emotionally attached to. It’s a mirage in the desert. A ketchup bottle in an empty fridge. And the quickest way to change yourself is to realize that there’s no real self to change.

 https://mrk.mn/2zUxwD4


War

by MB


I waged a war against my body tonight. Zippers that once required no effort at all no longer fit past her midsection, fat and cellulite announcing themselves in places once hallowed by the empty curves afforded by thinness. 

Instead of listening to her, tending to her foriegn softness, I chose rebillion. Contorting my body as though it were jello, arms behind back as rolls formed between my back section.

I held my stomach and slapped her for existing, rolling her excess skin around my hands as if the sheer disgust might motivate me enough to change.

I waged war against my body because its not the same. Because nothing is the same anymore.  

Because the dress I wore to Matt's funeral (who remembers the dress they wear to their best friend's funerals?) could barely fit over my breasts, much less zip up the side. The perfect size 4 black theory dress - once wrapped meticulously in a garment bag as if somehow dressing up the gown could help us forget the occasion - now crumpled on the floor next to me, a sign of my failure. Nearly two years later, the same dress took a bath in coffee - one of the many parting gifts of my company's leader who shall not be named - and all I can remember about the moment - beyond mortification - was that I deserved for it to happen because my dress was too small.

***

I waged war against my body tonight because the dress I wore when I moved to Hong Kong - a classic black Theory dress - size 4, no spanx needed - no longer zips over the midsection of my back, I've grown out of it entirely. That same dress, which clung off of me in September 2016, after I was mocked (though I secretly loved it) and called "pointy chin" by my fellow colleagues, now barely fit over my ass, cannot zip in the back, cannot contain this overwhelming person who was, only two yers ago, entirely containable. 

I waged war against my body because it changed without warning. She is not the same person she was two years ago, i remind myself logically, so why must her clothes fit the same?

They shouldn't fit the same. They should be smaller. For them to be bigger is a sign of failure, a sign of weakness, a sign of defeat peeled back from layers of shame and what if and fuck its and who cares anyways.

I waged war against my body because I hated the person I was two years ago, but because I long for her body - even her recovered body.

I waged war against my body because I'm terrified of her, deeply ashamed of her overwhelming compulsion for neediness. That in two years It will be a size 8, two more a 12. 

I waged war against my body because she continues to defy me, growing bigger and rounder and fatter and tricking me into believing it's all ok, it's all part of life.

I'm waging a war against my body now because she was supposed to protect me and she failed. 

Most of all, I'm waging a war against my body because I know she knows better. She knows that numbers are irrelevant and that weight fluctuates and what the fuck does any of this matter anyways, because it's life and it's meant to be lived and enjoyed and celebrated with loved ones, not huddled indoors counting calories in a piece of deep fried chicken breast (non skin).

I'm waging a war against my body because she was supposed to know better - supposed to know that when everything around you is changing - it is her responsibility to provide comfort in her unflinchingly rigid ways.

Years ago, I  waged war against my body many years ago because her very presence reminds me of my own needs, how apparent they must be to others, and how humiliating this is for me. 

I waged war against my body because it was my yardstick, and with it I felt safe. 

Today, furious, alone, full of flesh and emotion and my very own body-ness, I'm waging a war against my body for the games it played with me - trying to convince me that a number, a size, a hollow stomach or the beads of collarbones protruding from necks meant I was worthy, that I was going to be ok. 

And for a long time, I was. We were. We had everything and we had nothing compared to what we have now.

***

So body, tonight I'm launching a counterattack. I'm waging a war against you for the lies you told me. Because no matter what dress fits over my fat ass, or what zipper gets stuck in the ripples of my flesh, you cannot change the circumstances of my life. You cannot deny me the sadness and anxiety and gruesome fear that caused this war in the first place, because you've really never been good at solving problems.

No matter how much I hate you body, and sometimes I do, I hate what you are doing to me more. Hating you does not make the pain go away; it does mute the overwhelming fear of my future.

So yes body, I do hate you. But not because you've grown larger and curvier, fatter even, and you'll never let me be a size 2 or 4 or even 6 again. I'm not saying i'm thrilled about it, but I can learn to deal with it in therapy. But that's not why I hate you, body.

I hate you because you're a fucking bully.


The Big Ones

by MB


“The big occurrences in life, the serious ones, have for me always been nearly impossible to recognize because they never feel big or serious. In the moment, you have to pee, your arm itches, or what people are saying strikes you as melodramatic or sentimental, and it's hard not to smirk. You have a sense of what this type of situation should be like - for one thing, all-consuming - and this isn't it. But then you look back, and it was that; it did happen.” 

 

Curtis Sittinfeld, Prep


Unbuilding

by MB


Exactly the inverse of my arrival two years ago, this time will be defined by unbuilding - the extent to which I must disassemble the pieces I worked so hard to curate in the first place. 

The irony is almost cruel in its simplicity. What is life, after all, if not a series of stories told and untold - Penelope at her loom each night - writing and re writing with each sunset and sunrise?