In Plain Sight

I spend a great deal of effort trying to act normal.

Long before I had words to explain it, I desperately tried to hide my autism, and still do. The only person I’ve told about my autism doesn’t believe me because of how seemingly successful I am.

I find making conversation difficult and deeply anxiety inducing no matter how much I learn, and I have learned a few things, albeit slowly.

I learned that parroting the words I heard other people say during previous conversations does not bode well, especially when I am confronted about these hand-me-down statements that I am unable to defend because they are neither my actual opinion, nor facts I am able to cite the sources for. Whenever this happens I feel ashamed, like I gave an incorrect answer to a test question in front of my peers, all of whom knew the right thing to say.

Likewise, trying to learn how to have a conversation from watching movies or TV doesn’t translate over into the real world, which is not scripted by rom-com writers. Turns out Prince Charming is a rapist and the mail man lost my dreams after I shipped them off without a tracking number.

Although many people share my insecurities, I still experience imposter syndrome regardless of the circumstances: whether with family, friends, children or strangers, I feel my face blush, my palms sweat, and my heart palpitate simply at the thought of interacting with other humans, yet I push through and carry on, dancing through life as if my feet are not in excruciating pain with every step.

I’m too anxious to let anyone know about my anxiety, about how it feels like an invisible handicap that pervades every moment. All I can do is love the struggle.

Something like Love

My father gave me something like love except for the swearing and shaming. At least he always worked to support the family, though his money was perpetually scarce.

My mother gave me something like love except for the long stretches of neglect punctuated by outbursts of rage. At least she always cleaned the house, or taught me to do so.

My sisters gave me something like love until they felt insecure, which always happened sooner rather than later. I learned to hide myself in plain sight to let them take the limelight.

My partner gave me something like love except for how he acts with complete disregard for our family’s wellbeing, spending his time and money on whims to stroke his male ego instead of our necessities, but at least he doesn’t beat or cheat on me.

Perhaps the currency of love is like that: always a bit dirty, even if the faults are invisible to the eye.

Maybe I’m blind to the ways that my own love falls short, and those closest to me can hold up that sacred mirror if I am brave enough to look.

I’m sure I’d be horrified to see my own shortcomings magnified in front of me. But underneath my humanly errors, I’d also see the pure intentions of my soul, which probably look something like love.

Guys I’ve Dated

I’ve dated guys whose eyes watered from the burn of undiluted wasabi

Thinking they were Japanese cuisine purists, they were only fooling themselves

He judged others for cutting off their chi from wearing their socks too tight while his own panties were in a bunch

He took me to a restaurant where the jazz was so loud we couldn’t hear ourselves

He didn’t intend to listen to me anyway, I found out later that night

I’ve dated guys I could only wash down with an unhealthy amount of alcohol

Guys who made gourmet meals taste bland with their predatory presence

I’ve dated guys who tried to shame and control me

They must feel so ashamed and out of control themselves

I was never into that scene

I’ve dated guys who believed their suffering was unique, artists who didn’t want to feel understood

I’ve dated guys who made me feel special for a time, until I realized that they only wanted me to make them feel special

They didn’t see me as a person, but a tool to be used, an addiction to leave them unsatisfied

I’ve dated guys who drank too much and called out for me in the middle of the night like a babe to its mother

Like a mother to a babe, I gave them my teat

The narcissistic and manipulative, the accusatory and dramatic

Guys who implied suicide if I ever left their side, yet somehow they are still living

Guys who stalked me and threatened me with their bodies

I prayed for boundaries

My man isn’t like those other guys

But he wants to know how many, and why

All I can do is bask in relief and sigh

Grateful, deeply grateful

Musings

On the shores of sleep

Waiting for the tide of insomnia to roll out

I am crushed by anger

I struggle to breathe under the weight of it

Lord, take this burden from me

My dustbin collects what I’ve tossed aside for later

Later is now

There’s a feeling I can’t shake that the whole universe is a flake of dandruff on the scalp of a much larger being

When I am the queen bee, the person I sting the most is me

Life on Earth is a virtual reality ride at the intergalactic carnival

Human life passes quickly in the context of eternity

We’re just playing

You can do what you want to your avatar body, made from the latest technology

All that I wanted, all that I need, was always inside me

To tap into timelessness by returning my attention to the present, to reassure myself that I am more than ok- this is the meditation that frees my spirit

I return to this meditation again and again, waves lapping on the shore of consciousness

My anger boulder is also the rock that supports me

I offer up my rock collection

Lord, please take what I don’t know what to do with, what I no longer need

I feel lighter already

I have an old habit of letting the perfect be the enemy of the good

May I be ok with feeling hurt and not throw the whole relationship away

May I become comfortable with discomfort and stay

I usually dream that I am being persecuted- I run, fly, and fight ineffectively

When I scream no sound comes out

Last night I dreamt that I was being bullied, publicly humiliated and subjugated to abuse of power- another day on the job

Vultures ripped at my exposed flesh- bon appetit

The difference between us is our intention

My spirit sent a sincere namaste third-eye wink to the bully

She felt a spark of light in her heart and didn’t know what to do, it disarmed her

I think that on some level, she recognized the divine too

Hallelujah

Basement

If I were a guy

I wouldn’t have to choose which pregnancy lives and which dies
I wouldn’t have to lie
To keep my body balanced precariously over a precipice of shame
I wouldn’t have to remain silent about my pain
If I were a guy
I wouldn’t widen the depths of a woman’s trauma by asking her about the depths of her trauma
I wouldn’t judge a woman on the depth of her trauma
If I were a guy
Life would be simple and easy
You ask me about every fuck and every fetus, like it is your business
It is not your business
Do you really want to know about the countless rapes I’ve endured
Not just at the hands of guys
Girls and women, my own mother was the mother of all trauma
Do you want me to describe what it feels like to have your inside pried open and the most vulnerable part of you wounded, scraped raw as you sacrifice the new life you desired, the miracle at your core from another night as a whore
Left to wonder forever unknowing what might have been, who they might have been
It was enough for me to cut the ties
From guys I didn’t want in my life
I cheated on every last one of them, a string of infidelity leading to you
Why do you want to hear that, what would it do?
Maybe then you’d know who you married
But I’m trying to build a new life, live my best life, start anew with a clean slate, move with you to a new state
I don’t want to lie anymore, don’t want to hide anymore, but let me be myself or I’ll show you the door even though it will break me even more
Try as I might by inviting drama into my life, I am unbreakable
You try to crack me not knowing that I’ve been practicing for this my whole life
I’m sorry you are a part of my web of lies but let’s make the best of it I don’t want any more terrible surprises, even as I plant these words like a bomb under the floor.
Triggers are an invitation to see what is in the basement
My heart is in the basement but even our basement has a plant growing where the concrete is cracked
I’m trying to be that plant, don’t hold me back

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

Please don’t judge me for being a sex worker in order to make ends meet
You taught me how to dissociate from my body, how to put other’s wants ahead of my needs
You were my first violator and my first pimp
Remember molesting me at night throughout my childhood and adolescence?
You opened the floodgates for countless rapes
Remember forcing me to do things I didn’t want to do my whole life?
Pimping me out to abusive children who you ‘felt sorry for’ because they did’t have any friends
The reason why they didn’t have any friends is because they weren’t good friends. Like you, they were trapped in abuse
Oscillating between abuser and abused
Remember commanding me yet never asking or listening?
I told you I was depressed, you told me I was not
The middle school guidance counselor called you to pick me up from school because I was suicidal-
All you did was yell at me
You found out I was a sex worker by violating my privacy
You yelled at me to respect myself
Yet you never respected me and actively taught me to disrespect myself
How can you expect me to fly when all you ever did was drag me down and break my wings
You raised me in poverty
Gave me no financial resources, no guidance
I was hungry, I had textbooks to buy and rent to pay
You want to take credit for my success
I became who I am in spite of you, not because of you
Though I see the crucial role you played
At the end of the day all I can say is namaste

Off My Chest

I need to get you off my chest

I’ve never felt relaxed in my life because you raised me in the war zone of your wrath
Bombs of panic explode in my mind all day every day
Choking me with your smoke and mirrors even though you are far away
My ears ring with your shouting
You were the biggest little tyrant
Not even two years my senior
Yet always more needy
Mandating, yet begging
I didn’t realize the power I had over you, and still do
You were the one dependent on me for affirmation, not the other way around
I didn’t have a choice then, but I do now-
To live a life without your storms brewing on my horizon
I’ve never slept well in my life because I thought you were going to murder me in my sleep throughout our childhood and adolescence
I used lie in bed wearing a cross around my neck with a note attached to it asking you to think before acting, waiting for dawn to break, dreading another day with you, feeling trapped and hopeless with no end in sight
I never felt protected, respected, seen or heard by our parents
In moments of desperation, I wish you had killed me
Instead you continue to torture me passive aggressively, and I am passive passive aggressive
Silenced, as if buried alive
I toss and turn, tormented between insomnia and nightmares
I’m trying to think before I act
I am upset that I’m even thinking about you now
I am upset about how you get upset ‘at’ me: you throw your rage at me and have me clean up the mess, time and time again, left to calm your ass down as if your reactions were justifiable or somehow my fault
It was never my fault
I am not responsible for how you feel
Leave me alone you evil bitch
I want to scream at you with the force of 35 years of repressed anger and tears
At the same time, I am trying to let go of the hot coal which burns my palm
I am trying to let the rippling waters of my pond be still
I am trying to not be irritated, for only then will you no longer be irritating
I am trying to take responsibility for my thoughts and feelings
I am tired of trying so damn hard
I am ready for ease
I am ready for peace
I am ready to breathe
Please, get off my chest
I don’t need to ask- I am responsible for how I feel
I’m not sure what to do next
I’ll probably meditate and self-medicate with raw emo poetry
Like the note pinned to my cross-necklace, you will probably never read this
But maybe those who matter will
Those who feel they are suffering alone
May find healing in this onion peel
And breathe just one breath more freely
For this I humbly pray
Namaste

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

Rock

When struggling through life

I met the waves head-on

Gasping and nearly drowning as adversity slapped me in the face

Dragging down my body and my morale

Slowly, painfully, my ego was chipped away

Now a smoother stone, when the forces come at me

I bunker down in the stream bed

And let them pass over me with intentional non-effort

Challenges will always be a part of life

I used to be a leaf tossed by the wind

Now I embody the ever-present rock within

This is a practice, not a perfect

My ego still protests in victimized shame

I send a softening breath to my hard-headed brain

And soothe myself

You are OK

This is hard

You are doing your best

You are more than perfect: you are human

Humans get to live the beauty of learning from their experiences

Just breathe

Blue Glass

I am not OK

I’ve spent a life time lying,
Sticking to the script, saying that I’m fine
I learned as a child to be truthless
Because honesty only got me neglectful rejection
And beat-downs, ruthless
I was trained to be out of touch with my feelings
For a decades, I’ve been reeling
Coming home to my body, battered and bruised
Healing deep emotional wounds
In my family, failure was not an option
I prayed, even as an adult, for adoption
Periodically I stumble through patches of suicidal ideation
Homicidal visions to destroy all of creation
Just to find peace
Do you know what I mean?
I make ends meet, though I’ve stolen and cheated
Swimming upstream, never defeated
I don’t trust anyone with the truth about my life
I don’t want to rehash it, don’t want to unravel it
As a teenager, I used to beat off to Gravel Pit
I am not Ok, and I am Ok with that
I should probably ‘get help’, but the thing about people
Is that they make me uneasy
Can you blame me?
You can shame me, but whatever you are thinking,
I’m sure I’ve done worse
I seem Ok, like a high-functioning addict
Storing up empty bottles in my attic
Just to see sunlight shine through blue glass
Behold the beauty of my realized potential at last