Suicide & Silence.

With the recent passing of Chester Bennington to suicide, I feel compelled to speak out. The thing is, I’m not sure what it is I want to say, and still there’s that voice in my head who continues to insist that nothing I have to say on the matter means anything. It isn’t the first time I’ve written on this topic. If you were privy to the plethora of notebooks full of writing, and my sacred flash drive, you’d know this isn’t new to me. How to say what I’ve all ready said nearly a thousand times before?

I’m no stranger to suicidal thoughts. I’ve lived with that strong desire in my head since I was 12 years old. Time and age has not made it any easier to deal with, but it has given me the tools to deal with emotions I don’t fully understand, and cannot control. There’s a reason that we tell the suicidal to wait a day or two before following through with their plans. Suicide is largely an impulsive decision. When I get to feeling destructive, I use anything and everything to keep myself distracted. I don’t always use productive vices, but I’m not a poster-child for suicide prevention and awareness.

I’ve waited out many long days and nights of suicidal longing. If you’re thinking that it passes like a cramp, you’re wrong. I’ve gone weeks on end with the desire to kill myself, and believe me, those were long weeks indeed. Truthfully, I’ve gone through month-long excursions, just fighting every day to get myself out of bed and go about my routine, because at least while I was doing those things, I couldn’t do something that would permanently put me to rest. If you’re thinking I’ve managed that with a sunny smile on my face, let me correct you. I’ve destroyed numerous relationships with people because of the darkness in my head, and the thought that I had no way to explain myself. The worst part of depression is the isolation. It makes you a prisoner inside your own mind.

Truthfully, I’m still very much a prisoner in my own mind. While it may seem like I talk about this openly, let me tell you, this isn’t as brave as it appears. However, I do believe that until we learn to talk about these kinds of things, as a society, we’re never going to get a handle on mental health issues. We must talk about suicide. We must talk about mental health. If we don’t talk about these things, if we don’t open a dialogue, they will only continue to leave the living confused in the wake of another dead loved one.

Even if you can’t speak out in a public forum, speak for yourself. You’re the only one who can share your story. You’re the only one who has your experiences. Share them. I know how daunting that is. I know how terrifying that can be. I’m not saying this because I’ve been liberated by a willingness to be open about this issue, I’m saying this because of all the years I’ve been living in a dark corner, hiding my truth from the rest of the world for fear of what it might do to others. Suicide isn’t a problem just for people affected by a loved one’s death, or their own battle with depression. Suicide is a problem that we, as a society, need to start addressing.

Speak. Please. For your own sake, and others. Silence is what’s killing us.

 

Coward

“You’re a chicken-shit coward, you know that, right?” He says.

“Yes, I’m very aware of that.” She says.

“And somehow that’s okay with you? No qualms with that?” He asks, befuddled.

“Nope. None.” She says, then adds, “Not a one.”

He shakes his head, bewildered. “How can you say that? How can you be okay with being a coward?” And before she can respond, “I would hate myself.”

She smiles. It’s a wintry smile, it turns her blue eyes into ice chips. “I never said I didn’t.” She says.

Silence spirals out between them for a long, tense moment. He opens his mouth to speak, appears to think better of it, and closes his mouth again. He takes a sip of his beer instead, and wipes the foam from his upper lip. Instead of carrying on the conversation, he glances around the bar and sees everyone else talking and laughing easily. His eyes settle upon a game of pool, where a group of friends are chatting and laughing as if everything in the world isn’t going to hell just outside the bar’s front door. He becomes engrossed in watching them, longing to be a part of that group. Anything would be better than sitting at this table.

She’s watching him watching the other patrons. If he looked at her right now, he’d see the same longing look in her own eyes that he has while gazing at the pool players. If he turns back to her right now, she’ll have betrayed everything she came here to do, everything her brain tells her must happen if they both are to go on with their own lives. Her heart screams against it, however. She’s got him in her crosshairs, but she doesn’t want to take the shot, even though she knows she must. A single tear escapes her lashes, and she brushes it away hurriedly with the heel of her palm. She takes a sip of her vodka to steady her nerves and steel her spine against the inevitable.

He turns his attention back to her just as she’s setting down her glass of vodka. She’s composed herself again, and there’s no trace of that longing look lingering in her eyes. They’re blue ice again. She’s the frigid bitch he’s accused her of being in more than one argument. It hardens his heart against her further. Somewhere deep in his subconscious he can hear a thick, wooden door slamming shut, and the click of a deadbolt. He’ll never let her in again, and he’ll struggle the rest of his life to let in others. He will always sit in bars and glance around the room, feeling envious of everyone else and the ease with which they trust.

“That’s it, then?” He asks, his jaw tense, clipping each word off neatly—like severing wires with the snip of scissors.

“That’s it.” She says succinctly, her mind in total agreement while her heart rails against the bars of its prison, screaming to be let out, screaming to be set free. Don’t let me die down here!

He polishes off the last of his beer, and she takes little hurried sips of her vodka. Now that the nasty business is finished, they both want to be out of this bar as quickly as possible. It’s better to be outside in the city, blending in with all the other digits—anonymous. He pulls out his wallet and slaps his money down on the table. She’s digging through her purse deliberately while he takes his leather jacket from the back of his chair and puts it on. She’s giving him time to make his exit before her. The only thing exchanging more words can do now is irreparable damage.

He takes a final swig from his mostly empty beer bottle. He doesn’t know why he’s stalling, but his own heart is screaming not to let it end this way, but what else can be done? They’ve agreed it’s over. He looks at her one last time as she’s rummaging through her purse, knowing that she too is stalling, there’s not enough room in that purse for her to lose anything, especially not a wallet. She feels his gaze fall upon her, and looks up unconsciously. For the briefest of moments, he sees her prisoner heart clearly in those clear, blue eyes. For a single second, he sees the woman he fell in love with, but then she’s gone; swatted back into her prison cell by the woman she’s become, and he feels his heart crack along a fault line. There will always be earthquakes now when he merely thinks her name.

He starts to say something, then once again thinks better of it, turns, and walks toward the door, through the throng of bar patrons. She watches his retreating back, a tsunami of conflicting emotions. She starts to call him back, but then decides the damage is done—let it all be done, her mind insists. As he opens the door she pulls her wallet from her purse and pulls out her change. While she’s looking down at her money, he looks back over his shoulder one last time. In the glow of the bar lights her blonde hair resonates with light, just like it did the first time he met her. He takes that final image of her with him as he leaves.

She looks back at the door just as it closes, and thinks, I am a terrible coward.

Expression is Therapy

He was in the middle of a session when his secretary lightly knocked upon the door and poked her head in. He and his patient, a plump, brunette woman in her late forties, turned to look at her. The woman on the couch was wiping away silent tears. His secretary turned a light shade of tomato.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, but we have a problem out here,” his secretary began, and then the door was being pushed open and she came barging in, the only patient who ever challenged everything he believed as a therapist.

“I need to talk to you,” she said authoritatively, then glanced at his patient on the couch. “Sorry to interrupt,” she said. Her tone said she wasn’t really sorry at all. His blood was up, but not just because he was frustrated. However, he sounded calm, cool, and collected when he spoke.

“Then go back out to the lobby and make an appointment with Martha,” he said.

“No,” she challenged, her eyes dancing. “I need to talk to you now.”

“I’m in the middle of an appointment, it’s going to have to wait,” he said.

She sat down beside the plump woman on the couch and said, “I can wait.”

A serious of conflicting emotions ran through him at the same time: frustration, appall, humor. He fought to keep his features composed. “Please, go wait in the lobby. I’ll be with you shortly.”

“But you have other patients to see—“ his assistant began, but quit when he silenced her with a quick, dark look.

“Yes, right this way,” Martha said grabbing her by her elbow, and ushering her into the lobby. She let herself be led, but she gave him an unreadable look as she walked sideways out the door.

Fifteen minutes later she was back in his office and sitting across from him on his couch. Now that she had his attention she didn’t quite know how to begin. Funny how what seems so urgent can get clogged up in the throat when it really needs to come out.

“So what is so important that you had to talk to me right now, today, and couldn’t make an appointment with my assistant?” he asked twiddling with his pen.

She looked at him and smiled. It was a broken, humorless grin. Any hope he’d had at the initial sight of her vanished.

“Well, after our last session I knew I didn’t need therapy, but I needed to come tell you why,” she said.

He put his pen down in anger and laced his fingers together in his lap, to keep from doing anything rash with them, she supposed.

“And why don’t you need therapy? Since I have other paying patients waiting on their own appointments because of you,” he said icily.

“That’s not my fault,” she said, eyes widening in defense, “you could have refused to see me.”

“You barged through my fucking door!” He said angrily, leaning forward, before he was even aware of what he was going to say. After the words were out he was certain his secretary and waiting patients had probably heard him. His face flushed with color. God, she was aggravating.

She was smiling at his outburst, and leaning forward. “I like you when you’re angry,” she said with a chuckle.

“Get out!” he said pointing to the door. “Get out and don’t come back.”

She laughed, “You can’t send me away, because I’m leaving on my own, after I tell you why I don’t need therapy.”

He looked at her stunned. He’d never faced someone so baldly, blatantly difficult before. It was crazy, insane, but he found it attractive. A terrible thought to be having about a patient, or former patient, or whatever she was to him.

“Then tell me why you don’t need therapy so you can leave,” he said resigned, sitting back in his chair, and taking up his pen again.

She looked at him, chin lifted, as if she had some amazing revelation to share, and said: “I don’t need therapy because expression is therapy.”

Silence lengthened between them for a moment.

“That’s it?” he asked in disbelief. “That’s why you came all the way out here? You could have e-mailed that to me!” he said finding anger and latching onto it again. It was an easy crutch to keep within reaching distance, once you got the habit.

“That’s profound!” she said angrily, rising from her seat. She looked down at him like a petulant child, and did that pouty look turn him on? Of course it did. He had to cross his legs to keep that fact from becoming apparent.

Her eyes darted to his crotch and his crossed legs. Both of them pretended they hadn’t noticed. “Fine. I’m leaving, and never coming back,” she said childishly, and turned and walked from his office, slamming the door behind her as she went. He heaved a sigh of relief after she left, but was there also disappointment there? Of course there was.

After a moment Martha poked her head in. “Are you ready to see Ms. Smithson now?”

He smiled wanly, “Yes, send her in.”

Credit where credit is due: my thanks to ohellino for the line “expression is therapy.”

Therapy

Therapy

They sat in the office listening to the clock tick away the hour. She sat on the plush couch by the door, gently tapping her foot and fidgeting with her hands. He sat across from her with his right leg crossed over his left at the knee, casually leaning back into the armchair he sat in. He studied her over the tops of his eyeglasses. Her eyes were downcast so she could stare at the floor. There wasn’t a speck of dust or dirt, and she found this fascinating, but maybe that was only because she was supposed to be talking.

“We can spend the hour in silence, but the only way therapy helps is if you’re willing to talk,” he said.

She looked up at him slowly, her jaw tense against whatever she really wanted to say. He noticed this, noted it on the pad in his lap, but waited patiently. They looked at one another for a tense, silent moment—he knew she was weighing his words against everything life had taught her, especially about the usefulness of therapy. She looked back down at the floor and her feet before speaking.

“I don’t know where to begin,” she said.

“How about answering the question I asked you,” he said, pencil poised and ready to take notes. He was hopeful.

She glanced at him again, “that’s the problem; I don’t know where to begin with the question you asked.”

“It’s a simple question,” he said.

She shook her head as she looked back at the floor. “No, it isn’t.”

“I asked you to tell me about yourself,” he said, a little exasperated. He didn’t want to be, and he hated that he heard it in his voice, but he couldn’t help himself. Unlike his other patients she frustrated him. That was new.

She laughed, it was cynical and jaded, there was no real humor in it. “It should be simple, yes,” she said, and he could see her building steam. Maybe this wouldn’t be exactly what she needed, but it would be a start. “but it’s not simple; it’s never simple. Do you have any idea how many people, after twenty-five years, have asked me that question? That’s the basis of every first date; ‘tell me who you are’, and do you have any idea how difficult that is? I should know myself better than anyone else, but I’m the one who struggles with introducing myself. I can’t write an “about me” section on a dating or social website without agonizing over it first, and usually I settle for something basic: ‘I’m 5’3”, brunette, and I enjoy writing’ or something along those lines. And that only covers a few aspects of who I really am, but that’s the trouble isn’t it? That we can never succinctly describe ourselves, and we try so hard…” she said trailing off.

After a moment of silence where he studied her studying the floor, he said: “What do you think makes it so difficult?”

She pulled herself from her reverie and looked at him incredulously. A sad, humorless smile cracked her lips. “The most important things are the hardest to say…for want of an understanding ear,” she said, “I’m paraphrasing, but that’s the gist of what he said.”

“What who said?” he asked.

“Stephen King,” she said.

“You’re a writer, so of course you read a lot,” he said, “how do you think that affects you?” he asked.

Her face broke into another humorless grin. She was keeping eye contact with him now. “How should I know? You’re the therapist. You tell me,” she said.

He faltered at that. It wasn’t the first time a patient had been difficult, or turned on him. That was par for the course, but he found it difficult to find his usual response under her gaze.

“It’s only your first session, part of therapy is first getting to know one another, and learning that we can trust one another,” he said.

She barked laughter to the ceiling at that; it was as cynical and jaded and humorless as her smile. “I’ll never trust you,” she said.

Her laughter and her dead-pan response angered him. How was she getting such a rise from him when other patients couldn’t? “Then therapy will never work for you,” he heard himself say before he was even aware he meant to say it.

She smiled her humorless grin again. “That’s all I needed to hear, doc,” she said as she rose to leave.

“I didn’t mean that,” he said rising in response, absently casting aside his notepad (there weren’t many notes on it, she absorbed his attention and made him forget to write anything down), and reaching for her.

Her grin attached to her face like a lioness attaches to a gazelle that’s going to be dinner. “No, you did. It’s the first honest word you’ve spoken since I walked through that door, shook your hand, and you told me your name,” she said and walked out the door.

He stayed where he was listening to her discuss payment with his secretary. His knees felt weak, but also locked in place. He felt dizzy. It was odd. He couldn’t move until he heard the front door close behind her. Slowly, like a man waking from a dream, he went out into the lobby. His receptionist turned to him, expecting him to speak. When he didn’t she returned to her computer. He stood in the doorway of his office and stared at the glass front door through which she’d left.

“Did she set up another appointment?” he asked after a moment of silence.

His assistant turned to him, “No, she didn’t. She left early, as well. Is everything okay?”

“Fine,” he said automatically, and turned back to his office and shut the door.

 Author’s Note: Maybe I need to write about not writing in order to write. Hmm.

Even I’m not sure if this is real or fiction…

Do you ever get that rat-in-a-cage feeling where you know that if you don’t do something about it soon you’re going to burst from the inside out? All of my worst ideas stem from this feeling churning in my chest right now. Okay, that’s a blatant lie: I have no idea if ALL my bad ideas stemmed from this feeling, only that it seems like it should be true. I know that distractions only work for so long before I’m back inside my own head, wrestling with these emotions I don’t want to feel, and even less likely want to express. If I ignore them they’ll go away, right? (shut up, I know that isn’t true; I don’t need you to tell me that!) Just let me think my delusional thoughts, okay? Let me have my delusions. I have nothing else. I want nothing else but a noose around my neck. I think I’ve settled on that being my way out. I think I’ve finally decided hanging myself is how I want to go. It’s been years since I truly settled on an idea, on a means to the end, but now that I have I only need to make a trip to the store. Should be simple, right? It’s not quite that easy. There’s still some things to figure out: where, when, why. Questions that need answers, like always: forever and always. Death will do us part, you vile bitch inside my head. Death will make us equal, and I’m looking forward to it now more than ever.

Seeing Beauty in the World Again

I’m seeing beauty in the world again. How long has it been? I don’t even know. It feels like a lifetime, but contentment always feels like a lifetime away when coming from out of the dark. As I was driving home from work this afternoon I saw the fields around me bathed in the light of the setting sun–it was stunning as the fading light turned the world golden. As I drove farther the light darkened, but in my rear view mirror I could see the sunlight beaming through the clouds, and I understood why when driving through there the world glowed. For a moment complete happiness came over me as the world around me turned golden and sang. And even now when I look out the window and see that everything has dulled, turned grey, and there’s still snow on the ground, I see the beauty in all of it; for everything has its season. Emotions are like seasons, they persist for a while, but with time they always change.

It’s easier if you don’t read this with any sort of expectation of greatness.

It’s easier, so much easier, bottling tears. (and it begins, the voices in my head telling me I’m not good enough, have never been good enough, will never be good enough; that I should just quit while I’m ahead: and I know they don’t mean writing. It even feels as if something is holding me back, making it difficult to type these words. It can’t be my Dark Father, that Savior of Convenience, because I only ever sing his name praises in the written word: without me he ceases to exist. So it isn’t my Dark Father holding me back because he longs for me to exalt his name. No, but maybe it’s my mother–mistress misery. But why would she want to keep me from doing the thing that fuels my fire for her? If it wasn’t for writing in this melancholic state of mind we wouldn’t have a love affair, she and I. So who or what, I don’t know, have never known [but don’t delude yourself, love; you know. You’ve always known.] It’s you isn’t it? [no, love; never think it. For once again, without you am nothing and no one.] Who, then? Who is holding me back from spilling my guts…who else but myself). It’s simpler, so much simpler, pacing this rut I’ve dug over the intervening years (and I almost lost this…at least WordPress is looking out for me). I’ve paced ruts, retaining walls, sidewalks, the hallway in my mother’s house, and I never seem to tire of the monotony–I’ve embraced this dead-end lifestyle because I know we all eventually have to make that walk to our grave. This is my funeral dirge: the repetitive relay of boot-heels marching back and forth over the floor of eternity forever. (this isn’t my best writing, but has anything ever been my best? If it had been my best, wouldn’t that mean it’s time to give up?) [but you have given up; you just said so outside]. That’s what this rut is: giving up, giving in, settling in sin. [what sin? your life is so boring, love.] Hush, voice inside my head, just hush for now; let me finish this, please. This is the best I’ve done in a while. I know it doesn’t look like much, hell, it isn’t much–but it is enough, and sometimes that’s all you can ask for: enough. [but when is enough enough?] Hush, hush little voice inside my head. I need you not. I needed you never. [neverever, love.] (a part of me wonders: is this only fueled by the caffeine in my system? did this stem from me, or from my drug of choice?) [does it matter?] (since when are you on my side?) [Just go with it, love.] This used to be easier [who do you think you’re fooling?], used to be simpler, used to be like transcribing someone else’s diary, but now…

(is easier to leave that thought unfinished; i can’t open that can of worms)

What to write, that is the question.

I’m missing the mysticism that stems from creative pursuits in my life. Over the years I’ve really come to write less and less of literary value. I’ve become more obsessed with the errant thoughts that go skittering through my head. I’ve even ceased telling myself stories, or injecting myself and my own touch to works i love, like Harry Potter and the Dark Tower. I want to get swept up in an idea and a fictional world of my own making. I want to finish Azura’s story someday. At the very least get something solidly started.

I’m at a point in my life I’ve never been before; where I’m asking myself what to write. There was never short supply for material before, but now everything feels exhausted–overdone (especially by me). And I’ve changed just enough that the tone of anything I write will no longer fit with what’s all ready been written. Susan gave me Quoth the Crow by David Bischoff to read, and while I enjoy it, I criticize it as well for being too gothic-cliche. What do I really want to write? That’s the million dollar question now.

A Change of Pace

I’ve written these words a thousand times before. That’s doesn’t mean this isn’t new, because it is—finally.

 

Bear in mind that most of what I write has only taken place inside my head; I live in a fantastic universe where magic is real and death is vibrant. That’s how I know, in my mind, when He enters the room (He: my Dark Prince, my Savior of Convenience, my One Whole and True). He’s fictional, but he’s not. He’s real to me, and what’s real to me is really all that matters, isn’t it? I know it, therefore it’s truth. My truth is Him. He’s the personification of evil, of the devil himself—my Satan, my Savior.

Just because he’s only ever been real inside my mind doesn’t mean He hasn’t had a lot to say, or influence over my actions. In fact, he’s been the tyrant of most of my days; the iron ruler of my little cold, black heart. When I needed comfort in the darkness, He was there. His comfort was cold, it had teeth and would bite, but it was better than being alone—lonely. Anything, everything was better than being lonely. Desperation was born from loneliness; a mother who birthed a stillborn child, then brought it to life with black magic. It’s why I always felt cursed when I was lonesome, like a dove with a broken wing being circled by a hungry tomcat.

All of that (said gesturing to the above) to tell you that, in my mind, He enters the room and I know it not because I heard the door, but because I feel it to my core—you always know your own. He walks in as he has a thousand times before, with a smirk on his lips and a strut that says he owns the place, and puts a pale, long-fingered hand upon my shoulder. I refuse to acknowledge his presence because he’s no longer the dictator of my days. He won’t be ignored, however, and I know this. He leans in and whispers into my ear, “I don’t care how “well” you are these days, I won’t be ignored.”

I smile because his dialogue isn’t unfamiliar, and I’ve always loved the sound of his velvet voice inside my ear. There’s something about familiarity, it breeds nostalgia and comfort. I’m not so far removed from those dark days to have forgotten how easy it is to fall into old habits, or how much like slipping into a warm bath it is. “That doesn’t mean I won’t keep trying,” I reply with a sarcastic tone. In response he wraps his arms around my neck in a false hug—he’s really going for the sensation of choking. His lips move against my ear as he speaks, “Try all you want, love, but we both know you’re still my pet.” His arms tighten around my windpipe briefly in a show of dominance; it sends trills of fear down my spine that feels like spiders crawling along my skin. He may only be a figment of my imagination, but his strength is incredible, yet my will is stronger. I’ve mastered the art of deception (after all, I learned from the best), and my body never betrays my fear; for all it mattered I could be made of stone. Sometimes I’m certain I am.

Unnerved by my lack of response he pulls away and I turn to face him—I’ll indulge the demon when it suits my needs. There’s a smile pulling at the corners of my lips, it’s a satisfied smile; I’ve bested the devil. “Something wrong?” I ask coyly; my sarcasm angers him. His face, mostly shadowed by his hood (except for his mouth), burns ruby. His lips thin into a tightly wound thread ready to burst at the seam. My stomach turns in anticipation of the onslaught, but on my face it never shows. The smile is plastered to my lips in horrible mockery of the truth churning in my gut. I fear the reaper, but I’m beyond caving to ancient impulse.

His anger is short-lived, or so it appears. His lips curl into a Cheshire’s grin, and I know I’m in for it; his lips only curl into that wicked grin when he’s furious. I’ve tempted the grizzly with a bloody, juicy steak and now I must pay the price. There’s a reason they say never to poke the grizzly with a stick, and it’s one thing to think you understand the euphemism, but it’s quite another to see the cliché in action. He offers me his hand, and I’m not surprised by the flood of memory and emotion that washes over me (we’ve done this before), but I’m caught off guard by how impulsively I take his hand in my own. Before I’m even aware of what I’ve done, I’ve taken his hand and he’s pulling me to my feet. Like I said before, familiarity breeds comfort.

He pulls me into a waltz and we dance around the room with silence stretching between us as the beat. His grin widens, and I know my fear has finally betrayed me. I can feel it etched into every plane of my face. “You look frightened, my love,” he says slyly. My arms are laced around his neck and I’m quite certain that they’re soldered together at the wrists, and we’ll be stuck in this dance until the trumpets of Judgment day sound. “What have I to be frightened of?” I stutter. My sentences turn archaic when I’m frightened—simplicity is scared away from me, I guess. I don’t know if it’s physically possible, but his grins widens even further, exposing feral fangs and he leans forward to whisper into my ear. I turn my head away, but it’s the most I can do to get away from him; even my feet seem to be moving of their own accord—there’s nothing like being prisoner inside your own body.

“Death, love—what you fear is me,” he whispers, and I can hear the victory in his voice as fear stutters a tap dance down my spine and my skin feels like I’ve just be doused in water. He’s stronger than I remember, or maybe I’m weaker than I thought. No, those are the thoughts of the old me; the girl who was a prisoner, a slave, a victim of her own inner turmoil. That’s not who I am anymore. I am strong. I am powerful. I am not afraid. He senses the shift in my thoughts and reacts by pulling back slightly. His lips have begun to lose that grin, I can see it falling away from his face. Like breaking handcuffs I pull my arms from around his neck and place my palms on his shoulders and shove him away from me. His hands slide loosely from around my waist, and I can feel my body warm as soon as his touch has left my skin.

“I am not afraid,” I say fiercely, louder than I intended, but it gets the message across. “And you are not my master,” I add backing away from him. He’s standing there with his arms held out in front of him, begging me back into the circle of them where I’d always considered myself safe—had I fully comprehended how much pain those arms caused me when they encircled me, perhaps I would never have allowed them around me. He opens his mouth to speak, but I refuse to give him time to utter words with his velvet tongue and ruin my resolve. “No,” I tell him as I cover my ears with my hands and turn away. I walk away shaking my head and humming under my breath—it’s childish, I know, but a child’s talisman is often the only thing that works on a curse.

Freedom from within, what some call peace—you don’t understand how light it makes a person feel until you’ve been crushed under the weight of self-doubt and self-loathing. They’re comfortable clothes to wear, but should never become your favorite pair. Breaking the shackles of old habits is a bird learning to fly after having broken both its wings, and having a hypochondriac as a mother who thinks it will never fly again. I don’t think I can explain it much better than this. I know that it all takes place inside my head, but that’s where the most resilient of ideas take root and grow, and if a tree grows infected with poison it will never grow straight, but it will also never know its ill. Be wary of the seeds you sow because everything blooms, but not everything blooms bright.

 

From free-writing to academic writing: the evolution of my writing style

Been thinking about the evolution of my writing style. When I began writing I took the free-writing approach: sit down, spit up words, save. I believed whatever I wrote in that first instant was straight from the heart, pure, and shouldn’t be messed with. I still think there’s merit in the free-writing approach, but I’m not against revision anymore. What can I say? I’ve been molded by my years in academia. All those years in grade school I spent fighting against my teachers who wanted me to outline my papers and plan my ideas, and now that’s exactly what I do with everything I write. Back then I just wanted to wait until the day before the assignment was due, sit down and write it out, then turn it in the next day. I didn’t want to plan my papers or organize my ideas—I didn’t know what they were, how was I supposed to organize them?

Now, when I sit down to write oftentimes I’ll begin with the free-writing approach; I’ll sick up whatever is inside me that needs to come out in all its unadulterated glory. Then I’ll let it sit. The length of time it sits and stews in the back of my mind just depends. Most things I don’t ever go back to. It can take anywhere from an hour to a year later before I return to a piece of writing. When I do return to that piece of writing I re-read (cringing all the while), and pick out the images, the elements, the words, and sounds that I like the most. I make note of those things, scrap the rest of the piece, and start again. I’ve never prepared a formal outline for a poem before. Maybe someday I will. I usually reserve outlines for academic papers, or stories that I know are going to take some time to write. I reserve my use of outlines for pieces of writing that require careful organization of details. If I write a poem someday that needs an outline, well, so be it.