Apparently a lot happened yesterday. I found out a friend had died from cancer, and I found out another is pregnant.
The balance there seems rather cosmic in timing.
To be perfectly honest, though, when I got the news that my friend had died, I didn’t really react. Not out of numbness, but out of emotional tapped-out-ness. Really, there’s only so much a person can handle, before the rest just starts to feel like water off a duck's back. I wonder if that’s a mere inkling of what happens to nurses and doctors in hospitals and hospice centers.
I don’t mean to be callous. I did find myself thinking about this person as I fell asleep last night, remembering how he’d been a member of my circle of friends when I moved to SF and started to make friends. We were never close though. He was just sort of around, a jovial presence. But, I’m tapped out.
I’ll call my friend back who called to tell me so in a voicemail, and I’ll look online at the details on the service, and I’ll probably even go. But, I just don’t have the grief to spare at the moment.
I continued on with my day after I had listened to the message. I read my Harry Potter (my friend wasn’t able to get the final book on tape, but luckily I bought it hard copy the first time I was reading the series and was much too impatient to wait for it to come back at the library). I made the dinner of salmon and whole wheat pasta and spinach that I’d intended to cook all week. I talked with another friend about plans for today.
I. just couldn’t. I hope you know what I mean. After the already shock of earlier this week finding out a friend of mine had used again, and the awful dream that brought my friend Aaron’s death back front and center – there’s only so much. And there are others who can carry the burden, or the blessing, of remembering this latest friend who passed away. Right now, I need to refill the well, not tap it further. There’s not really much left.
In that same vein, I’ve been asked/volunteered to read at a poetry/creative writing reading at the end of this month. And I’m not sure what I’ll be writing about. I have one piece that I think I’ll read, and another that I’ve written which I’ll have to check out – both deal with the same subject, and I don’t want to overdo it. They’re both about sex without intimacy basically. And it’s what I’m working on in my “internal” life now, and so, it’s what I’m writing about.
It’s a little exposing (says the woman who read next-to-naked on a stage earlier this year) to read this stuff out loud – particularly to a group of friends and acquaintances with whom you’ll have to chat and make small talk after you’ve just read a poem about how BDSM worked where nothing else did.
Not like any of those experiences are current. I haven’t had sex in a year, now. And stayed rather close to first and second base since then.
Part, I think, of my writing is about exorcising things past. Or excavating them. When I wrote my thesis, none of that stuff was current information or experience. It was all ages ago, and in writing it, although it was evocative of emotions – sometimes too many emotions – I knew that it wasn’t current emotions.
It’s the same, I think, with this new set of work. Indeed, it dovetails with some of the thesis work, which wove three strands of my experience – sex, addiction, and family chaos. The same thread of experience, interpretation, and thought around sex are being picked up here. As if there’s still more to say, or explain, or release, or validate.
The way that I’d held sex and intimacy before were not, and still aren’t quite, healthy. But that doesn’t make them wrong or bad. It just means, for me, that I still have feelings about how I misused the power of it. That I still want to parse it out, explore it, and release it. It’s very much the same way that I felt about the work in my thesis – knowing it wasn’t current, but knowing that it was sitting like a fetid lake inside a light-devoid cave.
The act, for me, of writing about it, is an act of siphoning off the poison. About exposing light to these places, and helping them out, so that I don’t feel infected by them, but rather simply accepting of, and perhaps even compassionate toward, them.
Most of the work I’m doing now is around relationships and sex. The same isolation and retreat that happens for me around this subject, I believe, is the same thing that keeps me from doing work I enjoy or valuing the work I do and what I can offer. It’s all back to the lovely same swamp of low self-esteem; and cliché and junior high as that may seem, even to me, it’s got to be cleared, however “lame” it seems.
So, I guess I do know, really, what I’ll be reading about in a few weeks. I’m not totally stoked on exposing it, but I know, too, that I’m not ever going to be the only person to have experienced the feelings behind the behaviors, if not the actual behaviors themselves. I know that in sharing myself honestly, I’m cracking fissures in the sides of that cave. I know that I’m moving myself out of shame and into simple acceptance.
A friend of mine says often, that the work we do on this planet is not about self-improvement, but about self-acceptance. And I agree with her. I don’t need to be “better,” I need to be myself. I need to begin to understand that there’s something to value in that self, and as I’ve begun to say here, I’m beginning to see that there is.
The metaphor I’ve been using recently has been thus: If I were a pie or a pie chart, up until now, I’ve seen only a tiny slice of myself. This tiny sliver of who I think I am or know myself to be. But, there is, I’m only beginning to see now, an entire fucking pie. For all of my life, I’ve seen the sliver of myself, and thought and believed that that was all there absolutely was about myself. Now, I have no idea, yet, what the rest of the pie of myself contains, but the miracle is that I finally see that there is, indeed, a rest of the pie.