A Precious Aching

Sometimes my heart strains toward you
spreading so thin across the expanse between
that it quivers like a tightly strung guitar string
sending notes of anguish into all that empty space

Reverberation of moth eaten memories
stirring up stale dust in a long abandoned room
as it echoes off the walls of aching lungs
until I'm almost sure I should reach out for you

The half formed fantom of a future
grips my heart so suddenly in some moments
that it feels worth risking anything for
even certain humiliation and rejection

But then the sharp, pinching recoil always returns
to snap me out of my pathetic, forlorn reveries
my hand is not worthy of even reaching
a frenzy of hope can overcast the wretched truth

I have no right to continue pining
a don't deserve the bittersweet comfort
of these carefully enshrined memories
let alone the audacity of asking for more

My lot now is to keep languishing
moving inevitably away from a future
that could have once been mine
but was long ago forsaken

My selfish heart keeps me from
even the respite of one day forgetting
pouring warm tears over ice cold memories
I will be grateful for this aching
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Soul Sick

My soul will go silent
for months at a time
but eventually I'll feel it
once again begin to writhe

There is an unbearably tight
tangled knot deep inside
that strangles all hope
of coming untied

The suffocating container
of my present circumstance
keeps getting smaller until
I can barely stand

Still there is a small seed
of sickness that grows
and convinces me this pain
is my only true, cozy, safe home

The Beauty of Broken Things

The sweet sadness of loss
and long, lonely nights
I once viewed as damage
chips and cracks to cry over
evidence of unworthiness
that everyone would see

I've learned to understand
that old wounds are what
weaved me into who I am
a wonderful landscape with
deep valleys of despair that
can be filled up with healing water

These dark caverns of past pain
create breathtaking contrast
and allow me to ascend higher
and appreciate the peaceful peaks
speckling my span of time here
with all consuming beauty

I am so grateful for all the tears
and the twinges of discomfort
that form tight tethers to my past
even my small sufferings have been
dear friends and teachers to me
I've learned how to love my broken pieces

Green Tea Memories

Tea has been a re-occurring theme throughout my tangled life. My mother always preferred drinking tea to coffee. Her nervous nature simply couldn’t handle that much caffeine. Mornings filled with the fragrance of spices and herbs, clinking spoons, and tiny damp disposable bags.

Tea soaked wounds of my first broken heart remind me of moments of reluctant connection. It’s easy to wake up early when you’ve slept for over twenty four hours in the last two days. Dreams can only provide an escape for so long. When even that sanctuary is stolen from you, I learned that peace can be found in the slow ritual of sipping tea before sunrise. The begrudging silence between mother and daughter, the surrender of accepting help from someone you despise. Because you need her, and that hurts in its own strange way.

New love blossoms around a very different tea routine. Evenings after school, every day spent looking forward to this small, private heaven. Boiling water in the microwave and adding too much honey. The laughter we once shared when you finally admitted you couldn’t bear the way my overly sweetened tea made your lips sticky. Flirtatious frustration from the way you used to tease me for blowing on my drink before every sip instead of waiting for it to cool.

The soft haven found beneath the crumbling roof of your mother’s house. Her hovering hospitality of sharing joints with underaged teens, providing refreshments of my first teas made with milk. The strange, yet soothing smoothness of the subtle flavor. Savoring the mouth-watering smells of the best home-cooked dinners I’ve ever had being prepared in the next room.

All these years later, my heart can still rekindle those tender memories involuntarily as I sip my milky matcha. The most delicious ache, a powerful longing for a life that no longer exists. Beautiful lapping waves of private sorrow, never to be seen or shared. How can so much pleasure be found in such pathetic pining? Surely this secret clinging is a sickness, a delusion that corrodes all chance of a future. Even so, even so…

You’re With Me On My Own

Living lattice of spongey spiderwebs
stitches supporting the dark, damp earth
connecting networks transmitting information
between the trees' deeply buried toes

breathing in pulsating energy particles
that permeate the thick air above
quivering conviction of nature intertwined
magical mirror image, veins beneath pale skin

Sacred assurance that all is not lost
the same sun still rises in the east each morning
you reside in the red light beneath my eyelids
retinas stained with sweet remembrance

Everything fades except for this feeling
bitter things only taste better as I age
including this patient pain, the prize I protect
hopeless happiness harbored in secret

Silly dreams pluck breath from lonely lungs
pathetic mantra of "maybe one day"
vindicated by comparison to other
laughably unlikely anecdotes

The small, sharp pleasure of
planning this impossible future
fills my cracked cup enough
to keep going

Besides, we're still connected by
that complicated underground lace
linked inextricably through shared sunlight
eternally sown together with this earth
Mycelium Dreaming – Autumn Skye

Haze of Change

Senses sharpened by a shift in reality
the surreal sensation of sudden change
unstable ground under cautious steps
keeps me tethered in the present moment

My soul lurches back and forth between
ecstatic excitement and utter terror
at the prospect of all that's to come
should I dare to let myself hope?

Surely it's psychotic to leave this safe haven
this resting place that's given me such grace
the soft embrace of a found family
have I formed ties strong enough to last?

Still, it's been so long since I've felt this stirring
this passionate flutter of energy inside my chest
for once I want to let myself follow it
to fully embrace my innocent, hopeful heart

I've finally felt the hand of fate guiding me
I can't bear to ignore the voice of opportunity
even as it beckons me beyond my boundaries
to new places tinged with fear and uncertainty

Perhaps for the first time, I feel ready to be brave
making the right choice doesn't mean it's easy
left disoriented and dazzled by unknown possibilities
it's been the hardest decision I've ever had to make

Fresh Memory

Crystalline structures of familiar chords 
take me on nostalgic tours
through the old forgotten caverns
of my heart's youthful years

Fresh citrus drops
that sting you with sweetness
refurbishing faded memories
until I feel transported

Through the violent veil of time
that contorts and distorts
the continuous current of energy
that is me

What harm is there
in having a snack 
of the sweet, supple story
stitched together in my soul

To allow myself to believe the fiction
that I've chosen to cherish
and buried deep beneath the bedrock
of my being

The bittersweet bite of memory
never bothers me
hot tears and catching breath
can still feel like home

Permanent pillars of my past
are supports that assure me
some things will never change
a perfect picture of stillness inside

That will not cease to create
prickles beneath my ribcage
or train me to build up a tolerance
to the days that trail behind

When I find nothing but fear before me
I can always run my fingers over
the smooth shape of those experiences
that are mine forever to carry

A natural resource for me to drink from
and subconsciously stitch together
into fresh dreams of you at night
to fill me again with gratitude and delicate devotion

The Roads I Used to Know

Crumbling edges of long, winding roads
worn tires and no cell service
kicking up dust and distant memories
of days when I was someone different 

Complicated pangs between heartbeats
it hurts, but I hope it lasts forever
the bittersweet flavor of emotion
crashing over me

the sweet honeysuckle air of early summer
saturating every poor with subtle notes of nostalgia
a backdrop of rolling fields and familiar forests
fading sunlight softly shining through knee-high grass

the blooming joy of all that has been mine
the bitter grief of knowing it's past
the lonely recognition of unique remembrance
never to be shared fully by anyone

the miracle of time's twisting perspective
the power to ferment past pleasure and pain
into one deliciously intoxicating wine
savoring each sip of yesterday

Positive Pain

Pain makes me brave. Pain makes me honest. Pain makes me face the world with everything that I have. Sometimes it takes pain to show me what really matters, what I’ve been missing, what I’ve been taking for granted. When I’m comfortable I get bored. I become afraid to make any change at all. Even when it’s a change that needs to be made. I’m so afraid of shaking up the status quo that I’ve become accustomed to that sometimes “comfort” can be transformed into something worse than pain. Like a frog slowly being cooked alive in a tepid water that gradually begins to boil. I don’t realize how bad I’ve allowed things to get until it’s too late.

When something abruptly smashes into my comfortable complacency, there is fear, there is agony, but there is also opportunity. I am forced to change direction. I am forced to gather up the pieces of my life and create something entirely new. I am forced to be my own ally again. There is a haunting, fierce, indescribable beauty in pain. There is strength and resiliency and the birth of new hope after the fall. There is even a sense of surprise and pride in finding out just how much we are actually able to take without being broken. There is something awe inspiring when we lift our head from our tear-stained hands and realize, “I’m still here. I’m alive. This isn’t the end.”

There is great freedom in the feeling of having nothing to lose. There is a boldness that emerges, a confidence, even an urgency to go after what we truly want. Pain brings clarity and curiosity. Everything feels a little more real, a little more defined. Pain is the springboard for passion and creativity. It is a necessary evil. These are the reasons I find myself having a very complex relationship with pain, grief, and loss. Part of me finds a strange comfort in pain, an odd feeling of safety after losing it all. The burden of trying to hold it all together, the burden of grasping and clinging on to life is lifted for a moment. This brings a twinge of pleasure that blends into the pain. For me, pain is always bittersweet.

I’ve come to realize that the reason communication and confrontation are so hard, is not because I don’t know how to articulate my thoughts and feelings. It’s not that I don’t know what to say or how I feel. I’ve never had any issue explaining myself to a third party. But when I find myself facing the person I really want to talk to, I become so consumed with fear that I can’t focus. My mind becomes clouded with thoughts of what they will think or how they will respond to what I’m saying. Are they going to look at me differently? Are they going to be upset? Will they leave? Will our relationship change? Will they misunderstand me? Will I be able to respond adequately to whatever they say back to me? These concerns are so overwhelming that I tend to stay silent instead of having some of the most important, necessary, and intimate conversations. It is only once I feel as though I’ve already lost someone, that I find the courage to be open and honest with them.

In an instant our most painful experiences can become our greatest sources of strength. I look back on some of the darkest moments in my life with a sense of compassion and a knowing tenderness. It’s only much later that we gain the perspective to see the ways in which the harrowing experiences we go through are the very things that strengthen us, give us courage, and provide the pivot we didn’t even know we needed in life. Yes, pain is hard. Loss is hard. But it’s been said that anything worth doing is hard, and pain is always worth it in the end. Something even more complex and beautiful and real rises from the ashes every time. Be patient.

Bittersweet Transitions

Today is the last day I will have the pleasure to work with someone I’ve come to consider a dear friend. She is a therapist and leaving to go into private practice. From the moment I began this job, I was excited and inspired by the fact that someone only a few years older than me was already such an impressive figure in the mental health field. She is one of the best therapists (and probably people in general) that I’ve ever known. It is a delight to watch her work with the kids we meet and to learn from her interactions with them and their parents. I am definitely a much better person for having known her.

She lives quite nearby to another friend of mine, on the same street actually. Yet we’ve never really spent time together outside of work. I am desperately hoping that we manage to stay friends after we no longer work together. I’ve had that hope many times in the past. However, it has always been an unsuccessful aspiration. So while I still intend to try to stay close, I am not getting my hopes up. Rather I am just going to focus on enjoying this final day at work with her. I would like to snag a card while I’m out later to write all of these warm sentiments down for her. It’s always embarrassing and uncomfortable for me to be vulnerable and express how much someone means to me, but it’s definitely well worth the discomfort.

As I reflect on the time we’ve had together and how sad I was the day she told us she would be leaving, another thought occurred to me. That was the same day that Nate told me he had gotten the job six hours away from me. Up until that point, I had been having an exceptionally good day. Then I ended up crying all the way home. I felt like I was losing everything, my work family and my new boyfriend.

Reflecting on that day now makes my heart feel so full. I can’t believe how far Nate and I have come from that day I thought would mark the end for us. I am so grateful to have so many amazing people in my life. I am so grateful that Nate cared for me enough even that early on to commit to a long distance relationship with me. I am so grateful that our love has grown and flourished even despite the hundreds of miles between us.

Even though today is a bittersweet one, overall I am still happy. It is useless to despair over the fluctuations and changes that come in life. We can never predict what moments we will look back on and cherish, what small events may end up being pivotal moments in our lives. Today I am going to focus on being grateful for all I have, knowing that it was never owed to me, knowing that it may disappear at any time, and being all the more joyful because of that impermanency. Transitions can be painful, but they are also beautiful. They are opportunities to reflect and take stock of all that we have to be thankful for. And I have so, so much.

conflict-related stress: A hug a day will keep negative emotions and stress  away - The Economic Times