Hello.

Welcome to the Kindling Khepri.

I am still becoming, pushing the sun towards the breaking dawn.
I carry messages across the water, bidding them to survive. It is in my words that I will live forever, while my essence grows and rots and withers away. Know me in my message. Know that every line here is truthful and sincere, and every utterance a baring of my most vulnerable self.

Kindlings are my long-form musings on love, life and loss. They follow the threads laid out in the First Kindling; between Twigs and Kindlings, a khepri builds a bonfire of rebirth, nurtured by the breath of a thousand stories.

Do not crush me, traveller. Let me show you my soul, hoping it finds reflection in yours.

 

 

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Kindlings, 5

Let me confess something I’ve been telling myself all my life:

I’m really not a great person.

I would like to be, in my heart of hearts, but I know I’m not. I have a lot of issues and beyond that I have so many survival mechanisms and defenses that I terrify my own self. The khepri is a little beetle and symbolically it pushes the sun towards the dawn. The real beetle it represents is much less statuesque – it rolls a ball of shit, quite literally.

My lessons post-Kindlings 3 have been multiple and difficult but I’ve been thankful for them daily. The one lesson that’s stuck with me is something a lovely human being once said to me: ‘You’ve always been good to me, and I’ve always been good to you, and that’s why it’s never hard seeing you after time has passed, even if we aren’t best mates’.

I am guilty of being selfish, demanding, intense and immature. These are things I know about myself and have been trying to improve since I saw what was there. The one difficulty – though really a blessing – I have is that once I’ve seen the worst of myself I can’t go back there. That’s how I rebuild every single time, from the desire to be ten times better. Change or die.

My other big flaw is not that I act the victim, or centre my own experience, though I am guilty of that too. My big flaw is giving people way too much authority over my happiness, and seeking their validation for how I feel and think. That is unhealthy and after a while it becomes self-harming.

In my world, I am always the one in the wrong, and the people I love know this to be true. I would sooner pin something on myself than on someone else, and when I’m angry at someone I dedicate an immense amount of energy to gaslighting myself out of my anger and confirming with myself that I have, in fact, overreacted.

That was the first thing I started burning to the ground when I decided the time was ripe for a change. I’ve spent my life being convinced by the people I loved that my instincts were false, that what I saw wasn’t true, and that my interpretation of what I saw was heavy-handed or wholly inaccurate – this when I know myself to be a rational, logical, almost too coldly analytical human being (NB: another flaw – computing emotion is a massive challenge, and causes total combustion). After a while you stop trusting yourself; you stop believing that you have a good measure of a situation, and you start conceding your power to people who you think know best. You stop seeing that people may be good but that they can only receive you as far as their own experience allows.

That isn’t a mistake I will make again in a hurry. You have to see yourself as a person of worth before you can be good to others. A lot of the goodness I’ve tried to show people came from seeing all my flaws (and I can list them for you if you want) and all my hang-ups, and wanting to offer people what they needed because I didn’t know how to give it to myself. But that’s the shift I started feeling in myself this year – that rather than give people from my own place of pain, fear and insecurity, I would fill my own bucket first, rather than die of thirst trying to quench everyone else.

And that meant letting a few people down, and cutting a few out completely. Because I am not a great person, but every day I try to be kinder, and nicer, more fair, less hardened. I can’t fix any of my mistakes but I can make sure I don’t knock my head in the same way twice. It works some days and others it’s hard, but I never get out bed wishing anyone harm, and I don’t go to sleep counting off my kill list anymore (I’m actually Jon Snow and about as much of a stubborn pain in the ass); when I’ve hurt people I realise it first and act to rectify it, immediately if possible, but in time if I think that’s what they need more from me at that moment. It’s treading a balance between loving yourself and being honest about who ‘yourself’ really is – your triggers, defences, and capacity for utter shittiness.

So if someone decides i’m not great, and doesn’t think I deserve a chance to prove them wrong, then it’s farewell with great love. I used to try to explain myself to people who’d already made up their minds about me. That right there is madness, and I’m trying to prove to myself these days that my brand of mad is more quirky than self-destructive. It isn’t fair to keep a scorecard of who hurt you when you aren’t keeping track of who you’re hurting; it isn’t fair to keep score of how much you do for others as a defence against seeing yourself clearly, and your own weaknesses. Letting go was always hard for me but thanks to a few lessons I’ve become a professional of late.

No one is responsible for your self-esteem, for your validation, for your self-respect, and if you give people that much power over you, you have to realise that doing that is an exercise in agency that only you can put a stop to. We are only responsible for ourselves. We cannot control other people – what they think, how they react, what their context is. We have to respect it though and realise that whatever hurt we feel, and whatever retribution we think we’re owed, we might never get our absolution, our moment of reckoning. And who needs it anyway? Shake the dust. Burn it to the ground. Build something new and beautiful from the ruins of a life, a love, a friendship that maybe wasn’t for you, or isn’t for you anymore. It’s okay to walk with shaky legs and cling to trees in the cruel winds of other people’s opinions. But in the end let their winds fuel your fire. You are far too radiant and magnificent to let it blow dust in your eyes.

Kindlings, 4, or ‘running’

The day comes when you stop running.

You’ve told yourself for years that that’s not what you were doing. You weren’t running from the foundations that shifted, quicksand like, under your feet. You weren’t running from the person you were told not to be.

You ran, though. And when those things weren’t in view anymore it started looking like you were running towards something more.

Then you stop. Something or someone brings everything to a halt, and the world hits you in a haze of headlights and night air and frenetic sounds building to a crescendo around you in the street. You see everything flash before your eyes: your weakness, your pride; your fear. The mechanisms you’ve used to bury these primal feelings under newer, prettier insecurities.

In that moment you have a choice.

You can flick away the noise and get in the car, take two pills and wake up tomorrow to carry on as usual. Or you leave the spectre of your running self to die in that street, die there with her hollow eyes and hollow bones you could light a fire inside. Leave her there – leave the jacket you forgot in the cloakroom – leave it all. You will never return to live in that skin again.

I’ve faced these choices on a few occasions in my life. In the past I’ve sometimes made the mistake of choosing the former, only to end up there again. It’s the easier, softer path; it’s cushioned in excuses and blame. It’s when you choose the latter that you choose the harder road, the one that involves waking up every morning learning to know yourself anew. Who is this girl I’ve lived with my whole life, and never recognised? When did she lose her faith in people? When did she stop blowing bubbles on street corners and handing out cupcakes to strangers?

When did feeling pain become her only source of feeling? And how do we make it stop?

Old ghosts follow and encircle us. I have never feared them. But the dead remnants of your soul are a little different; a little more powerful, a little less forgiving. Healing is cauterising, is fire and sacrifice. It is the ash that fertilises new ground for life. The soul cannot move forward in light, in newness, without picking out its scabs and sores and burning away the pestilence that holds it back. Break down the walls you hid behind and use them as your foundation.

You stop running. You look at who you’ve become, who you are. What you’re worth. What you could be worth. What you want, who you want in your life. There are no more excuses. There is no one left to blame. You survey the destruction, the smoke and bone and blackened feet. You gather the ashes to plough into the tree sunken into your spine after all these years carrying other people. It’s just you, now. There’s no place for failing. Upright and strong, you begin to walk again, slowly, tenderly, intentionally. You will bloom when the time comes. You will bloom better, brighter. You will never return to that girl again.

Moment

Of madness

or
Weakness

I cannot choose;

but you cannot control

how people respond to you.

You cannot control how people respond to you.

 

I needed the lesson more

than I needed love.

You cannot control them

but you must,

always

Control you.

 

A shock of amber hair and wide eyes in the headlights

watching walls tumbling

deafening

around the lies I told myself.

Roll and rush

rush and roll

into the distance and away;

goodbyes

choked in petrol smoke

and breathless pleas.

 

Goodbye.

Take the lesson.

Metric – A Tribute (2012)

Today is Thursday! So let’s have a throwback to a poem I wrote way back when I was 19 and very, very naive (isn’t naivete beautiful?). If you were a follower of my old blog ‘Insomnia&Sexytime’ you may remember it.

This poem is inspired by the chorus of the song Black Sheep by Metric. If you haven’t heard it before, give it a listen, because it’s really cool. If you’ve seen Scott Pilgrim you’ll know it anyway 🙂

 

Sending you my love on a wire
Like two shadow robins meandering along treacherous barbs
Black and art house the way arty can be
For me
The dancing light echoing off your wire palms

My love, on a wire
I balance myself
And it bends in the middle
So I’ll do what I can
Sending my love
Through heart-shaped wires running up burning telephone poles
To reach you and kiss your forehead
Because chaste is what we are
Through distant pathways and laugh lines encircling the same silver moon

Wiring myself to your faraway love
My love
I send you beauty in the form of impassioned arguments and crashing bursts of anger
A mischievous laugh echoed by a shaking head
Moulding myself to the contours of an imaginary heartbeat
Imagined because it has been an age since I’ve heard it
So, my love, I will love you with
Laughter
And the occasional tasteless joke
With thoughts of your crystallised eyes and sensitive hands
Maybe you’ll remember me
Just today

Because we never forget.

My love, I send you my love
Through this bitter wire in this bitter world
Knowing only that you
Are true
In your own confused, headbanging-against-the-wall way
And you will catch my blown kisses with the fluttering of your lashes
The wire becoming a thousand tingling bubbles on your sleeping, loving face.

I send you my love
On this wire.
Always.

 

Love Letters

Sometimes you don’t need a poem, or some pithy prose.
Sometimes you need a love letter to yourself, and the sisters who carry you.

 

So this is to a girl I know.

To the girl who slays dragons just to get out of a bed
Sunken in by late nights turning thoughts over in a turbine mind
The girl who shows up for every day brimming with energy she never had
And a to-do list longer than the hair she cut off
To erase the weight of grief and missed chances
To the girl
Who hides her hour-long internal monologues
From colleagues and friends
Every time they suggest a shared meal
Because eating is a daily betrayal of Haruki
The demon child who moved in when she was just a teenager.
The girl who learned to tame Haruki all by herself
To sit through her tantrums
And wait for her to go back to sleep.

The girl who shows up for everyone
Apologises for everything
Whose greatest fear lies in not being there,
Not doing enough
Who hates herself for questioning whether others are doing their part.

The girl who forgives friends for missed birthdays and careless insults

The girl who gives lovers her whole heart and comes back to fetch it
Blackened and bruised
And forgives them still
But never forces anyone to stay
Never begs for absolution from a turning back.

The girl who never felt she belonged anywhere
The girl who never believed she could create
Because it isn’t fair to be smart and artsy
And later, because it isn’t fair to be smart and pretty
The girl who learned to choose a box and stick to it
Before she burned it to the ground
Because she could be everything
And she chose to be.

To the girl who learned to shrink from her radiance
So that others felt tall
The girl who hides the magnitude of her responsibilities
Her pain
Her heartbreak
From those who love her
Because she can heal your hurt
But no one knows where to begin with hers.

To the girl I grew up with
With the infectious laugh
And the pained memories that birthed a wicked wit
The girl who only ever wanted to know that she mattered
To the ones she chose.
The girl with diamond eyes
And a steely heart
Big enough to carry the world
Strong enough to shield it

Bold enough to fight.
Mad enough to win.

To that girl
I love you.
Welcome home.
It is not always easy here
But you are always wanted.

Constellation

It is not
In the constellation of skin and sweat
That we find our truest selves
There is no greater loneliness than
The unpresent presence
Of another
And yet
We yearn for the closeness
Of a love that lies exposed
And vulnerable

And yet
We long for the warmth of another
Sleeping side by side
As our exhalations meet and mingle in the air above our heads
Joining our frail human selves
In a marriage of dreams that weave into each other
With every breath
Rising to the ceiling
Renewing love by morning light

It is our truest selves that come to the fore
When
Stripped of all pretense
We learn to be
And be still
In order to hear the gentle stirrings
Of souls meeting in flesh

In order to see
Constellations colliding
In a lover’s eyes.

Lupus Luna

Call me fierce before you call me beautiful

I do not need your lion’s mane

You will not hear me roar.

 

I stalk the moonlight in my twilight pelt

passing between trees and past lives whispering in the witching hour.

I am the wolf

I am the witch

I am bloodied fangs and amber eyes

I come not to conquer

but to claim

 

This delicate lover can be

Is

Protector, defender, champion, king

Call me fierce

Do not dismiss these flaring eyes as flickers.

 

I circle my pack. I shield what is mine.

Soft prints scatter in the soil:

Moon witch becoming wolf

Wolf born from a winter’s moon

I belong to the night; you always knew

that your love came alive in the moonlight

 

sweet Sun

My love is not the gentle warmth of a summer afternoon

It is the bonfire keeping demons at bay

The chill air caressing your face with the cool hands of death

while your blood boils beneath

It is the howl of the wolf sighting its Mother

too far to hold

too close to abandon.

My love is an eclipse

Giving you respite from the labour of giving life.

 

Call me fierce, my love

You bubble and brim with hot air and hope

But it is for me that the night goes wild.