Sleep Talking

Long ago and far away
On a bus grinding through the night
The air thick with sweat and grime
All we had was time
Beer and ice cream on my lips
Bitterness and liquor on his
The man next to me said that I was afraid of talking in my sleep
He overstepped the boundary that I failed to establish between us
Sometimes when I wake up alone, I wonder if my lover heard me sleep-talking and left me to wallow in my past
I want to tell him the truth about my life, but I fear that he would stop loving me,
or worse- rehash it endless times and tell his religious family who would judge me as a hell-bound, lying, baby-killing whore
They’d be right, in a sense
I have exchanged sex for money and I’ve had 3 abortions, each one horrible in its own way, but not as bad as being stuck in an abusive, disempowering situation
Judge not, motherfuckers
I don’t want any man to judge the decisions I’ve made about my body
Least of all a man who is financially dependent on my career: a profession which swallowed my fetuses whole
My past is nobody’s business but my own
I don’t want to be given a hard time for the hard times I’ve already been through
I’m trying to heal and move on
I’m trying to meet myself with compassion for the trauma I’ve endured
I am strong and tough and vulnerable and delicate
My dark secrets are at once more innocent and scandalous than my jealous partners imagine
I didn’t want to be pregnant anymore so I stopped being pregnant
You weren’t supporting me by being broke and leaving me shamefully unmarried
I didn’t want to spend the weekend with you so I didn’t
I regret the weekend away because the other men treated me both better and worse than you, but I love you- painfully clear now that the hormonal storm of pregnancy has simmered down
Why do I set myself up for drama and disaster? I’m trying to heal but your rehashing of the past dredges up emotional detritus, dragging me back
My old stress addiction dies hard
I clamp my jaw
My teeth grind like a bus in the night
I pray that I didn’t sleep talk last night

The Sting of the WASP

I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, it’s just that

I have some long-standing frustration to express.

My personal experiences with the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture which I was born into are not meant to characterize everyone who identifies as a WASP.

The WASPy culture of my home community is one in which
everything is wrong, but nobody talks about any of it.

This illusion of perfection only fools ourselves

In reality, we are just as lost, anxious, depressed, alcoholic, drug addicted and trapped in abusive relationships as any other community.
From the outside, everything looks fine:
Picket-white fences, freshly mowed lawns
The house has been painted and the windows washed.
On the inside, our bodies are ravaged by insecurity and fear, leaving us worn down and raw like the bulimics that we are: caught in the binge and purge of a life of vanity.

We’ll do anything to keep up appearances even as we disappear further from our authentic selves.
Putting such effort into pretending to be what we are not is a tremendous waste of energy.
We strive to keep up with our neighbors in an empty shell of consumeristic existence, even though it costs us the true richness of our souls.

We go to church and recite prayers monotonously like mindless drones.
Can any discernible note of true worship be heard when we are only regurgitating printed words without feeling?
In our daily lives, how much are we really doing as Jesus would do in our thoughts and actions?
From what I have seen and heard, we could do much more.

Even as a young child I felt that attending my WASPy church was a time and place to desperately try to save face-
Emphasis was put on what to wear,
Instead of how we felt on the inside, in our hearts and minds.
We went to church to trick ourselves into feeling like we were living our lives right.
When actually we were living quite selfishly,
Without true regard for the suffering of others.
Our capacity to give was far greater than what we actually gave.
Even in giving, we were narcissistically trying to feel better about ourselves.
The same people who faithfully vowed to ‘judge not’ in church
Could be heard loudly judging their neighbors before and after the service.
I don’t want to judge WASPs on being judgmental.
I know they have suffered a lot and are doing the best they know how.

In a sincere wish to help them live their happiest, most fulfilling life

I want to gently remind them that they will suffer less when they judge less.
I’ve noticed that when I judge others, I only hurt myself.
Mentally separating ourselves from other humans by labeling them as ‘other’, ‘inferior’ or ‘defective’ only separates ourselves from our own humanity.
No wonder we often feel that our lives are insanity.
This rings true for judging ourselves too.

I judge myself and others every day, and every moment is a new opportunity to practice non-judgement, which to me is the highest form of spiritual practice.

I feel the heaviness that judging leaves in my heart, and I am ready to lessen my load.
Changing mental habits is a practice, not a perfect.

I feel lighter and happier when I connect through my heart to humanity.

I pray for spiritual awakening and liberation from suffering for all.
It is a goal as lofty as the tallest church steeple-
It is my dream, big enough to include all people.

The divine light within me bows to the divine light within you.

Finding Sukha

Sometimes I feel angry
I could blame my parents for the anger they passed down to me through their nature and their nurture
But they are only survivors of abuse and neglect themselves, victims of inter-generational psychological torture
I like to think that they were doing the best they knew how
With limited resources at the time
It was a different world back then;
There was little awareness and poor preparedness,
Less information and more isolation

Sometimes I feel sloppy
My movements get choppy
I crash, splash and make a mess
I only hope that I don’t take anyone down with me
When I slip and fall
Reminding me that in my haste, I don’t save time at all

Sometimes I feel on edge
I am irritable and my mind carves a ledge
Off of which I can easily slip
Into a hellish well
Of memories echoing back at me
Little things that seem big disproportionately when viewed at close range

Like the time an ex gave me condescending lip
When he proudly pronounced the word ‘dukkha’
Then judged me on how the Sanskrit word (not the concept, mind you) was unfamiliar to my vocabulary at the time

Dukkha is commonly translated as ‘suffering’, which is an important concept in Buddhism because the Buddhist path was designed to liberate people from suffering by helping them first overcome their desires/selfish cravings

I am all for liberation, but his elitist attitude was not resonating with me
That fool tried to school me on suffering like I’d never suffered a day in my life, when I’ve suffered every damn blessed day of my life

So I gave him a lesson in letting go of attachment by leaving him

I thought he could stand to benefit from the lesson and

I don’t need to take shit from a privileged prick about fancy words that I was too busy earning a living through sex work to have the time to learn from a text book

Books are hella expensive anyway

That’s why I gladly share my writing freely

Cuz I want it to reach people like me

People who were born into economic or emotional poverty

Through these simple words I string together

I humbly hope to help alleviate suffering in others

Perhaps it only helps alleviate my own suffering, but even that would be enough

I am a person, too

Also, writing feels like free therapy to me

I’ve still never been to actual therapy

I hear the prices are crazy

But I digress…I don’t have the energy to deal with fits of vanity

from spoiled boys who get off on looking down on me and the rest of the world

I think that instead of judging anyone who hasn’t heard the word ‘dukkha’
It would’ve served him better to find sukha
Sukha means ‘ease’

My point is this:
Everybody experiences dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness or stress) and hopefully sukha (happiness, ease, pleasure or bliss) in their lives
Everyone around the world attends the school of life; we are born, live and die in that classroom
But not everybody has access to the luxury of learning outside of their immediate human interactions
However that makes them no less educated than those who have the resources for recreational reading
At least in my book

So I’d tell that ex (if I could stomach the thought of communicating with him, which I presently don’t)
That if he thinks he is superior to others
Because he’s so well-read
Then maybe he should know
How to fit his ego back inside his head

With compassion, I recognize that fear of inadequacy lies at the root of his speaking boastfully

Here are some lessons that I’ve learned, and they aren’t in Sanskrit:
The ego inflates easily but deflates again eventually, and when the ego balloon gets stabbed by a needle it can be a long, hard fall down to the ground                                                                                                    Liberation from our egos and freedom from our desires is the ultimate gift
Money can buy a book but it can’t buy wisdom
Material wealth will get you inside the ivory tower but it won’t shelter you from suffering

Just look at my ex; he was rich in his wallet but impoverished in his heart-mind
Leaving him so that I could be poor but happy
Was a decision that put me at ease,
At ease like sukha

Sometimes I need a lesson in letting go too

Sometimes I find sukha

I Know You

I know you
With your love for women’s bodies and booze
You blast your charm loudly
You walk big and talk proudly
I remember you
We’ve met so many times before
You want to buy me a drink
Which means sleep with me
Which means impregnate me
And leave me to pick up the pieces
At night your drunken demons resurface
Chattering of insecurity and fear
A horrific dialogue that only I hear
But honey, I don’t need to bear your load
I’ve got enough to carry on my own
So don’t put it on me

I know you
Bestowing me with bottles of wine and hotel rooms
you even insist on opening doors for me
Yet the only thing you don’t give me is the one thing I want from you,                                            if you were to ask, or to listen:

Respect in the form of safe sex,                                                                                                      which is the only sustainable great sex
I will think of you with bitter regret
When I get tested for HIV, long months from now

You are there to bed me, to liquor me up and strip me down
But you are not there
When I am spending time, money, sweat, blood and tears
On emergency contraception, pregnancy and STD tests

Thank you for making it easy to move on                                                                                      Until we meet again                                                                                                                                     I hope to recognize you then                                                                                                               I know you