Stories From Growing Up: Throwing Punches At Sickness

Where is the proof? How does the brain change?

I waited an entire year before I told them about my diagnosis. In retrospect, I should have made the decision last much longer. I wanted to have some sense of what my life would be like, some sort of resolution before I could open the door.

Prove it to me, tell me about academics and science. I am not a daughter, but a translator and educator. Tell me as I cry about how I am hurting that you need to know if this is even a “real thing.” I suppose it’s easier for me to tell you than for you to politely explore it yourself.

I am only your daughter if we can call this a matter of being too sensitive and absolve ourselves of its name. If we can pretend that all my turbulence is no different from what other people go through– what if this is just how it is at your age? 

Pull your head out of your ass.

Funny that my reality is unfounded, but is strategically useful.

Are you sure you can handle this? The token response when I do something unfavourable. The voice that tries to say that it can see my sickness, but what it means is that I have done something they disagree with.

Did you take your medication? The thing you abhor, unless you can use it to paint me as irrational. If I am upset with you, it is only manufactured.

As it turns out, you don’t need to believe anything. You just need to know how to manipulate the people that do.

030

Here comes that dropoff again,
an underwater ledge
I’m always prepared to swim
so I can get around to sinking

it’s just the way you scratch my back
and tangle my spine
and I’ll sit upright unable to speak
a holdout I will always lose

I catch my breath too slow, I know
can’t take your weaponized observations
choking on sips that feel like spite
throat closing on some cherried lies,
another monkey in the cage

I’m radical and unruly
the crazy and wild,
twisted to your spinning lies
the burden is not my mistake
but you’re here to load the weight

but I am fickle, a pending explosion
a timebomb, search and destroy
tear me so you can watch
disarm me so you can revel
in what you make of me

my stomach sinking into the sea,
I can see this is why you had me
bless, a human into a novelty,
innocence is paved in myth
when you could have asked
and you never did.

028

We’re tangled by our ribs, marrow weeping
if you could just put me down, I could cut the feeling
but when the air comes in and my lungs expand
there’s a little bit here that isn’t you

there are moments where the muscles don’t rip away
and I walk to figure out my pace
but ribs rubbing on ribs and
micro-tears, it’s enough
it’s enough and I want to give up

Could I have seen you coming,
the impact of our first collision?
the consequences of being naive,
when all I needed was to breathe

I’m just a vessel for dying cells
my inner arcade, collide and reload
you count down every coin
and I pray as my hands shake
for just a little more time

I was born with your voice in my head
you had me before I could be me,
before I had a light in me.

Stories from Growing Up: Never Weightless

I always said you did not transfer any of your fixation on weight on to me. It was so normal in our household that I disregarded it as much as I could, but these things have a way of coming up when you least expect them.

You look better with more weight on, you look sickly.
Comparing sizes; I’m bigger/smaller, I’m so fat.
I hate how I looked at your weight.
You’ve been gaining a lot of weight.
Angry because the clothes were too small or too big.
Don’t eat so much.

I would cover myself up in 90° F weather because I thought I was too big. Jeans, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt or sweater. I would grow my hair long and keep it down as if it would hide me. I had “fat jeans.” I was hardly even a teenager.

And today I look in the mirror and I repeat the things you said to yourself. 

Too fat.
No ass.
I would feel better if I could finally be skinny.
Two down on the scale, and I’m getting closer.
Don’t. eat. so. much.
The best praise is when other people notice I’m smaller.

Stories from Growing Up: Treating the Psychosomatics

I sat in the bathroom in elementary school, feeling sick. I didn’t know why.

When I was older, I had a favourite bathroom for throwing up in. I knew the smell of the water in the toilet, and I was comfortable watching for cockroaches coming out from the walls and shooing them. We called it food poisoning. It was a “me” thing, something about a weak stomach that no one else had.

It scared the shit out of me, not knowing what was going on. I would sit up through the night, wondering what was wrong with me and why I was alone.

Worse yet, the nights where I would wake my mother. It felt safe just to sit in the hall and hear rhythmic breathing. If I woke her, she would be angry sitting with and eventually she would give up and go to bed, something I could not do.

So I started to sit alone again. I counted my ribs each night for the fear that not eating would wither me away.

I sympathized with her fatigue, her desire to sleep instead of being with this.

I asked for a doctor. I sat on the couch with my heart palpitating in my ears, my body shaking and the tiny hope that this could be over.

She said no. That was when I started sleeping on the bathroom floor.

I just didn’t feel safe going home after school. I didn’t feel safe growing up. You can’t treat a kid for a problem other people pretend not to see.

 

026

feet barefoot out the car
under streetlights
that haze of a long night,
that lull towards sleep, I
don’t know the time

that way I think of you
when the strap breaks off my shoulder
taking on too much
drinking my way off the sofa

falling all over yourself
to hold me steady
thinking I’d barely remember
the night

but I fall to your stillness
I rest, I can’t take this
the way safety lives in the past
and now you sting me in the present

the way you drink my sadness
to fuel your madness
like comfort and warmth
were never what you told

as I rested on your soul
I never knew how it could burn
I never knew the cost to learn,
but I see it now.

023

It’s been years since we gave you a name
sat on my chest and placed blame,
my god if you tried a little harder
my god if you’d been a little smarter
you could lift the sun off the ground

All the time, claiming mine
a world that wasn’t for me to define
felt like a scribble ripping into this
a wholly uninvited kiss, I
wish I were a little stronger

my god if you tried a little harder
my god if you’d been a little smarter
you’d swim in bedsheets,
they wouldn’t swim in you

My god if you’d laugh a little louder
maybe we could pretend it’s still you
my god, laugh a little louder,
maybe you could breakthrough.

022

I wanted to tell you
I’ll be late
or nowhere at all

to let you know I’ll be home
but please don’t check on me
I’m nowhere
at all

I wanted to tell you
I stand in a fog
there’s nothing
at all

I wanted to show you
my throat has cracked
I couldn’t speak,
not about that

I wanted to tell you
I’m sorry I stayed
don’t know how you could love me
not after that.

019

I am your slowest burn
you didn’t know I was here
breeding a quiet yearn,

coniferous rage,
you were a wasteland before you knew it
could have been forever but you blew it

a little bit of tugging at seams
nothing between you and me
is it the absence of feeling
or the way you’re leaving?

before the fire lit
bet you thought you had it
like it was a spillover you missed
won’t make that mistake again

some sort of fire watch, but you
weren’t looking out for me
sow your skeletons and seeds,
the barren and the rage

smoke signals, I was just leaving
particles to choke on, no breathing
bet you didn’t expect to be laid bare
bet you didn’t expect how little I care.

 

 

016

you say my atmosphere has no gravity
can’t get close enough to feel a pull
can’t seem to let anyone in

think you’d be a great almost for me,
burning up in the static
can’t bring myself to you

god, I wish I could

think you’d be a great view for me,
like you might radiate enough
that I might just feel your sun

god, I wish I could

but I’m a perpetual hit and miss,
perpetual forget-about-this,
all teeth and no kiss

god, if I were not so bruised
I wish you would