don’t you know that you’re toxic?

Standard

Some people come into our lives like bombs. Like their love is a threat. While our lives crumble around us, we focus intently on this little device, trying every way we can think of to decode, diffuse, disarm it, all the while knowing how probable it is that it will explode in our faces. Our friends flee, our families are crushed by falling rubble, our enemies shrug, and our future selves weep watching us. But we chip away, clipping wires, buying time. Like lives depend on it.

Imagine how things would be if instead of expending all that energy working/worrying/chasing/negotiating/pleading with that landmine love, we spent it on ourselves? And on the love we know we have? Imagine.

We take to that explosive like there aren’t millions of other people out there who could treat us so much better, when truly there’s no need to lose our youth and innocence when we know it’s only going to burn. So much hope we have for what we do possess, so little faith we have in who we are and what we could have if we believed we deserved it.

But the truth is an explosive too. Compared to that little bomb, the truth rains nuclear throughout our lives when it hits. A dreadful analogy to be sure, but when you know what horror some people have faced, how can you continue to accept the horrific behaviour of someone you owe nothing. Perhaps you owe them the freedom to understand the consequences. Perhaps you owe them the glory of you, fully realised and flourishing, not for them to be bitter about or saddened by, but proud they know when to give a good thing up for it to become the best thing for all involved.

Amanda Palmer wrote about an old adage…
“A farmer is sitting on his porch in a chair, hanging out. A friend walks up to the porch to say hello, and hears an awful yelping, squealing sound coming from inside the house.
“What’s that terrifyin’ sound?” asks the friend.
“It’s my dog,” said the farmer. “He’s sittin’ on a nail.”
“Why doesn’t he just sit up and get off it?” asks the friend.
The farmer deliberates on this and replies:
“Doesn’t hurt enough yet.” 

And this adage was the truth that rocketed through my life, stripping my defences and excuses. And little by little, I am getting up. I am barking back. Because I’ve realised a couple of things:

That there is a big difference between “I am who I am” and “I do what I want”.
That in this big, wide world there is no worse thing than needless pain.
That once really is enough. And sorry is not.
That it’s OK if this time isn’t it. There will be more if you want more.
That it’s OK if this time is it, but you don’t want any.
That the only reason they know how to hurt me, is because I taught them.
That the only reason they continue to hurt me, is because I let them.
And that the reason we love toxic people, is because we think we’re asking a lot in return.

When it comes to love, I genuinely believe that “you can’t love me, until you’ve hated me”. If the love endures past the hatred, or if the love dissolves the hatred, then you know it’s real. If the hatred lingers, if it grows, if it forms into meanness, dismissal, violence or torment, then you know what you need to do. Put the bomb down, suck the poison from the wound, take a shower, forgive, forgive, forgive, and remember you did all of that because you know how to love you. And for all that it may sting, for all that it may sicken, for all that it may scar, isn’t that a good thing?

B.

img_1397

Portraits of a Heartbroken Head

Standard

Hell isn’t just real, it’s necessary. And if you don’t want to be in it anymore, then don’t be. Remember that the difference between heaven and hell isn’t sin or faith, it’s simply which of them you have the strength to let your life be part of (and what you’re willing to do to build that strength. Are you contributing to happiness, kindness and choice? Or sorrow, pity and dominance? It’s always much more complicated than that, but for the moment simplify what it takes to resurrect your mind from pain, confusion and fear to, ultimately, love.

Mental illness and instability has been on my mind a lot these past weeks. In order to process some of those thoughts, I drew on my face and offer these seven images of it to you, along with my lyrical and ripe melodrama. In the hope that by doing so I can continue to live heaven, and spur those around me to keep the conversation honest, challenging and special to the journey.

img_2766

DIS/ARM
The beginning for me is the ability to distance my mind from my body, confuse the power structure between the two. For the mind to treat the body like its vessel is the most intimate form of domestic abuse. Eating becomes incidental, hatred of flaws intensifies, heart rate becomes rapid, heat floods and self-care eddies away. Some people feel this distance so consumingly they can take a blade to their body, or a rope, or pistol. Some people feel this distance so suppressive they turn those weapons on each other. It’s a simple difference between recovery and ruin: putting the weapon down.

img_2777

NOT/HER
It does always come back to blame, and the harder it is to handle the impact of your choices in the present moment, the further you will run to the past to apportion the harm of who you are outside of yourself. But your parents cannot resolve who you feel now, and your past cannot be anything other than how you reacted based on who you were at the time. You can resurrect it and make the past the present so you can reattempt a resolution, but redemption will always come from what you do now to transform the future for what it can offer not torture the past for what it can’t change.

img_2782

SYCO/PHANT
Ambition hurts. Dreams, when applied to the present day, can corrode at your sense of self-worth like an acid addiction. This doesn’t mean you should abandon all aspiration; it means who have in your one life a serious decision to make. Do you focus your energy on satisfaction, or gamble everything on getting the goal? Before you cut your path one way or another, better know yourself so you know you can take one road without regretting the mystery of the other. Your decision isn’t irrevocable, you can double back, but wandering between admiration of idols and fighting for survival will exhaust. Remember as well that some people would give their lives to have lived so long as to still be able to choose.

img_2858

DISS/EASE
Other generations call mine weak, and selfish. Apparently that will shock us back into a sense of ourselves that can forget our species’ history of corruption and pollution, that can withdraw from the enormity of the world that we’ve been thrust underneath the scrutiny of, completely exposed to. One mistake makes a meme and civilian turns to celebrity turns to suicide. With the connectivity of the modern age, came the anonymity with which people could gleefully and liberally dispense stigma upon each other to distract from the impending destruction of our planet, and our very selves. This waste of time, waste of soul will be the key to regret and the type of barbarous, murderous ignorance that the threat of stretches our brains beyond breaking point.

img_2867

FREE/BODY
Sex is as much the enemy as the remedy. No currency is as valuable, no robbery as abhorrent, no plane as politicised by every system from civil to religious. The limitations of our most basic understanding of our own mechanics is not far from personal feudalism, whereby the mind does not respond to the environment, but weaponises it. My explorations of sexuality have led to a diversity and discomfort for which I’m grateful because it is a kind of liberation my heteronormative counterparts cannot name as they struggle with respect for the bodies as elemental, evolving. They can only be swallowed up by fantasy.

img_2988

CHOICE/CHANGE
It is scientific fact that we are creatures of two components: chemicals, and storytelling. We can be slaves to the narrative we recite to ourselves which some disguise as prayer, others as pep talk, and as far as our emotions are concerned, the things we tell ourselves become truth. There is a distinct difference between spending our lives writing our own story, owning our own plot highs and lows, and copying out what others wrote about us in their story. Or we might just read other people’s biographies and pay no duty to our own opus. Taking control hurts because we know what we’re gambling. Losing control hurts far more because we don’t know what we’re gambling. Like the man caught between the two cliff faces, our lives depend on our faith in surviving any trial of mind. Regret is the ultimate killer.

img_2817

GIVE/LOVE
Bearing in mind that there is only one way to learn, and that for all your hardship is relative to you, incomparable to another person’s pain or suffering, the only driving force away from trauma or fear, is love. I don’t mean romance, or sex, or even friendship. I mean a willingness to fall on your face so hard your nose breaks when your nose is the only thing you like about yourself, and still believe that your relationship within can still be filled with laughter and care and compassion. There’s little more frightening than knowing that of all the love you have, none of it is your own. It is a basic need we must provide for ourselves, however that is calibrated. For me it’s eating, and appetite suppression has long plagued me as a symptom of self-loathing and disappointment in myself. What I didn’t know, is that this refusal to sustain myself in order to get where I wanted to go is precisely what stands in my way.

Thank you. Gratitude is our easiest gift to ourselves, as forgiveness is to others.
Share you. In whatever way that looks like for you, and permits your simplest happiness, and therefore your most remarkable survival of this incredible place.
Love you. I know I do.

B.