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Damaged

Soundtrack: 🎶 Sober – by Taps🎶

Deep scars. Deep deep scars. Anger. Resentment. Regret. Chaos. Darkness. Hopelessness. Death.

When they tell you that it’ll all get better in time. It’s absolute nonsense because if they could hear the pounding of your heart, they would know your end is nearing. Yet they keep repeating, it’ll all get better…in time.

Time passes. Days turn into weeks, then months, then years. Yet your brain still remembers the pain as if it happened only yesterday. You can no longer cry out loud, because they won’t understand. When the weeks turned into months, they assumed it had all gotten better. Except, it didn’t.

You’re still breathing. You’ve never felt this great in a long time. You tell yourself you’re ready to take on new challenges. You’re bold, brave, and stronger than you’ve ever been. And yes you are. But the scars, they are there for a reason. For every new beginning you get, a message is sent to your brain, that you’ve been here before…tread carefully.

Your heart starts pounding again, your anxiety is threatening to reap your new found confidence to shreds because why, your brain still remembers the pain and it’ll do everything in its Supreme power to shield you from ever curving in. And so the fight begins again.

And again. And again. And again.

They keep telling you the reason it still hurts is because you haven’t yet healed. That maybe you haven’t forgiven. They don’t know that this isn’t about them, this is all you. Somewhere along the way, the enemy got left behind and you picked yourself up as your worst villain. Life can do that to you. Love can break you like that.

Them? They healed. They learnt from their mistakes. And they changed. They long to make amends and they get down on their knees begging you for a second chance. No, a third, maybe even a forth. If you were really counting, it’s actually a sixth chance. But your brain, your brain still remembers. Its all it ever does, remember. You embrace them with open arms but you tell them that place you both once where, it no longer exists. You wish them well and off their way you send them.

They begin a journey without you, and it is one you spent days and nights praying for. Even years. They’re loving someone else the way you wanted them to love you. You remember those days and nights you spent on your knees begging them to change, to get help. For you. For us. You kept saying. When you cried so hard your nose bled for hours. When you locked yourself in and counted the seconds as they turned into minutes, then hours, on a cold cold bathroom floor. Sobbing. When morning came and you discovered that actually, there was still plenty of room down the abyss for things to get worse. Because for a second, just a split second you thought, if they see me hurting this much, they’ll change.

You thought wrong.

You’re battling walls. You’re scratching and punching air. You call for interventions but you’re back to square one the moment the doors close. How can they all help you fight demons they know nothing about? There’s a battlefield in front of you. But you’re a lone soldier. The bullets keep coming from every angle. You keep taking fire. Mayday. Mayday. But help isn’t coming. It will never come. Before you know it, you’ve hit the ground. Dead. It’s gone. Everything you’ve ever worked hard for. Gone.

It’s all gone.

The clock never stops ticking. How is it you seem to be bruised beyond repair and they seem to be doing okay? Why is it that the victim always suffers more than the perpetrator? Why is it that a stranger gets to reap the fruits of your hardwork, your pain, and everlasting wounds? Why couldn’t they be the person they are now with you? You ask them. Proudly, they inform you that it took losing you to make them better, to make them who they are now. Deep down you know that they’ll never ever be good for you.

Because your brain still remembers.

Does it ever stop?

Complicated. They stand before you, everything you ever wished for, but also everything you wish to forget. Total amnesia. It’s a past you never wish to revisit, a present that baffles you, and a future that can never be. That’s how damaged you are. Still, you keep asking yourself, why me? Why me? Oh Lord, why me?

Time. They keep telling you. Time. You keep hearing. Time. You’re now telling yourself. What will it take to make it all go away? Just love yourself, they say. But what if you love yourself too much that it increases the risk of damages if you ever choose to surrender again? What if the price you pay now is more than the one you just finished clearing?

You tell me.

How do broken people love again?

Teach Me. Show me.

Just don’t tell me, time.

Show ME.

Because I want to love him like I’ve never been damaged before.

I really do.

(This piece was inspired by a scene from the Criminal Minds TV show, Season 14, Épisode 9- Broken Wing)

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Dear Alfredo

Dear Alfredo,

I traveled back in time today. I had to. I couldn’t help it. And I have papa to thank for that. This is exactly why I never go back there. That place. The home that haunts me and the people heaven created to love me unconditionally, yet they never did. Papa especially. How can mama love a man so vile he takes pleasure in his own daughter’s pain?

Edmund, that’s the name of your greatest tormentor my love. It’s what I call him whenever I want to get even. He wonders at my audacity and if he could have his way he would hit me senseless just like he does mama. I see it in his eyes. I also see the way his hands shake and his fists knot in bridled fury. The last time he tried it I sent him flying flat on his stomach. My fifteen years of teaching self defense had finally paid off. If mama couldn’t put him in his place, I would. And I did. Now I am paying for it.

You should have seen the twinkle in his eyes today. You remember how his eyes start dancing whenever he stirs up something and waits for it to brew? I watched him today, with the intensity of a boxer facing her opponent in the ring, daring him to cross the line yet again. You should have seen how his Adam’s apple kept twitching from both restraint and excitement. He was on home ground, so that gave him the upper hand…although that never stopped me from acquainting his face with his floor in a much more intimate manner than his feet ever will. Only this time, it was my tears he was feasting on when he croaked, “still no man in ya life huh? Shouldn’t be surprising. No man would want ya knowing you were fucked by that-” I had inched closer to him so he could say that derogatory name straight to my face. Lucky for him, mama stepped in, like she always does and pulled me away.

So yeah, I thought about you today Alfredo.

Oooh, dear Alfredo. You should see me now. I look nothing like the girl who used to make your stomach get all tied up in knots, and send shivers down your spine and all the way to your feet until you couldn’t help but break out in dance. On certain days you said I left you speechless. You should see me now, perhaps you would understand why papa’s eyes dance so happily at the sound of my breaking heart. My head is all hair and my eyes keep sinking into the back. Although mama will tell that it’s my face that’s all eyes, because now that I’ve lost so much weight, they look like two huge holes leading to an endless abyss. I don’t feel pretty anymore, but that’s okay.

Time has not been kind to me Alfredo. But neither were you. If your love has kept me alive all this while, I wonder how mine couldn’t give you the will to keep fighting, to want to live more than anything, to be with me. Just as I do now, fighting to stay alive for the part of you you left me with, without even knowing. He is both my torture and my joy. He is you, but he also isn’t…will never be. How could you say you love me but still leave me? I could have shared your pain, I wanted to, desperately. In fact, I did, and still do. Now I have both your pain and mine to carry alone. And soon I’ll have to carry our son’s too when he learns about how his papa left.

I used to think that our love is the only constant thing in my life that the years have not tempered with, but I was wrong. Because on days like today, I hate you. I hate what you did to us.

How could I not see it coming?

I never had to ask you. I always knew. It was always there, your unfaltering love in the face of danger. You had many a secret up your sleeve but your love could never be that. It was neither subtle nor lukewarm. Neither was it overpowering or burdensome. It was just…enthralling. Captivating. Hypnotizing. I knew the day I looked into your eyes that I would forever be your willing prisoner. Every now and then my mind wonders to that mid-summer morning when it first happened. I had not woken up that morning hoping to find love. But I found you.

It had been a while since I had given up on ever encountering something…or someone as extraordinary as you. You feared nothing. You always looked danger in the eye and forced it to smile back at you. You lived every moment as if it were your last. Perhaps if I wasn’t so consumed in your love, I could have seen, maybe even sensed or heard the monsters you were trying to keep at bay. I had once entertained a fairytale ending for myself, but I was only five then. Since then, I had seen too much of life to even entertain the possibility of a love that could rival one straight out of a Regency novel. And with a father like mine, the tide was tuned away from my favor even before I came into this damned world. But there you were, in a wrong place and at the wrong time. The stars never saw you coming my Alfredo. You smiled my way and changed the face of my fate immediately.

How was I to know you had traded yours for mine?

At the top of these stairs, on a door to my right lies a five year old with a smile exactly like yours Alfredo. When I open that door, he ‘ll awake from his light sleep because he’s been anxiously waiting for my return, just like you used to…and like I’ve been doing these past five years. I’m gonna hold that boy so tight in my arms all the hate I feel for you right now will leave through the pores of my arms. And then I’ll forgive you, again.

And again.

My dearest Alfredo.

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There’s a Stranger in my bed

I have days when I wake up happy. And days when I wake up sad. I have moments when my mind is so consumed by stories of people who have never existed, yet are alive in my head. Worlds unknown consume my being, familiar faces of strangers I have never met beckon me and insist I release them to the world. Shadows follow me in both light and darkness.

Then there are days when I have to deal with the living. The look in their eyes and the stories they would rather remained untold. The stories their bodies tell, willy-nilly. The way they stand, walk, touch their hair or wet their lower lip, the raging pulse as I deliberately brush my hand against their arm, the faraway look in their eyes, the dilated pupils, their eyebrows as they hit their hairline, the sweaty palms and the quivering lips, how they lean forward or away, how they look down when they should be looking up. These are raw stories unraveling before me begging to be deciphered into mortal man’s language. These are stories invisible to the average eye yet my mind rejoices at the obvious interpretation. And sometimes ever so erroneously. It’s in the voices too. When words are mere sounds, maybe even noise, and the tones and intonations carry the message. When phrases turn into full sentences and their attention averted. A slight touch to the sleeve, game over. Where others hear silence I hear whispers of words unspoken and desires unquenched. And then nothing.

These roads aren’t just paved or dusty. They tell stories of years of struggle, a people’s plight, Ă  revolution, and a dictatorship guised as democracy. There’s liberty out here in these crowded streets. Still I wonder if anyone can see the prisoners held in chains by their own phones, careers, and the things they claim to love that will never love them back. The patrons here at my local pub aren’t mere passersby or strangers seeking a rest stop and a quench to the throat. They all have stories that my mind insists on unraveling. These are settings waiting to be explored by an adventurous plot, scenes to be immortalized on paper and remembered to times indefinite. This is my land. And these are my people. I’ve walked these roads before.

I have a lover in my bed who demands the very essence of my being. My body he wanted and got, yet he insists on devouring me to my core. I welcome his lust with both pleasure and reluctance. For the price I pay in this dwelling is not anywhere close to the disappointment he will soon face with unmet expectations. There was never a damsel in distress here, only a heroine with villainous tendencies.

Behold! There’s another lover on my kitchen table, but it’s not the fire from my stove he wishes to contain. He flinches not when I touch him, as he surreptitiously tries to drown my flame with everlasting heavenly kisses. An unholy union of fire and ice, a devils delicacy. Burn. I have a lover in my head who wishes for a place in my heart. The crowd in my head overwhelms him, he says. He cannot compete against wonders without bounds. How is he to know that some contenders were born with trophies in their hands. They need not step onto the field for a race already won. My lover wishes to tame the heart capable of feeling every emotion ever known to man, except for the ones it needs to keep beating. Oh yes, I used to have a lover in my bed. And a beating heart too.

I’m hot and cold, I’m high and low. I’m here and there, I’m alive and dead. There’s never an equilibrium for the ones who run with wild horses. My baby sister thinks me a psychotic genius as she stares at me yet again in awe. She’s familiar with the angels and demons in my mind but she can’t pick a side. I remind her, yet again, that I might be on the side of the white fairies, but I’m not one of them. My older sister thinks me a recluse, an indicipherable code. “The sun is out”, she says for the umpteenth time. How will she ever know that I’ve been to more places than she could ever imagine and that I’ve met people that the rest of mankind is yet to meet? How is she to know that I’ve danced with wolves, dined with elfs, fought with knights, rescued damsels in distress, and even consorted with angels in Eden’s very backyard? I have stolen Cupid’s bow and played with Icarus on the edge of the sun. I have fallen from grace with a slight jolt to my Archiles heel. And like a phoenix, I rose from the ashes with a raging soul. See I have two sisters. The light in my darkness. The axis upon which my world revolves.

I wanna be understood. I also wanna be left alone. I wanna live a life on my terms without explanation or excuse. I’m always misunderstood. I wanna be loved, but not to Ă  point of suffocation. I still wanna be left alone. I wanna be embraced, with my wings open wide, ready to take flight into the skies whenever the need arises. But he will always be my home…if he let’s me in. I wanna be held tight. I also need to breathe. There’s a Stanger in my bed. I’m familiar with her bubblegum scented strengths and weaknesses. Yet every now and then she manages to surprise me. She has dreams bigger than mine, and a head as sharp as a razor. But so is her tongue. There are empty pages on her table. At the tip of her pen lies the six letters of her name, yet when she sets it down to write, a mysterious word appears.

Misunderstood.

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Live – they said

Life is what happens when you’re not updating your Facebook status. When you’re lying on the cold floor, your feet against the wall and your mind consumed by the alternate universe that exists in the words before you. When your lover shows up at your door unnanouced, unkempt hair and a shy smile – a portrait of self-awareness that’s quickly erased by a simple kiss on the cheek. You look beautiful, he says.

Life- it’s in the fleeting smiles, the unrestrained laugher – wild and free, when you hold her hand across the table and she places the other over yours, when she unexpectedly cries because she’s just too happy, when she appears before you in nothing but your dress shirt and beckons you to her, when she comes apart in your arms because that’s the only heaven she’ll ever know. I love you, she says.

Life – when you sit with her in silence yet it’s the most filling moment of your life, when promises are unspoken and a heartbreak looms over you… Still, you keep living the best version of your life because tomorrow is never promised to those who wait for life to happen. They create the moments. They embrace the silence. They shout at the top of their voices. They make mistakes. They fall. They get up. They learn. They love again. So let’s live, they said.