Eyes Open #WorkForHappy

(Or Alternatively, “Turning Twenty And Realizing My Eyes Have Been Shut The Whole Time: A Brief Birthday Reflection”)

Ascending into the two-decade old plane of existence was almost anti-climactic, but to be fair, it had to close a rather turbulent turn of the globe. Since last year, August 31, 2017, I have taken four total double 10+ hour bus rides, snared a dream role at a start-up publication, and even started dating a rather dashing lad who has an affinity for calling me a water buffalo in his free time.

At the same time I have screamed, panicked, had a handful of crises (less in comparison, though), was ghosted, and learned what it’s like to be between jobs about… five times. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the Mercury retrograde – I don’t even believe in that stuff and I still felt it in my bones that something was off in the heavens when I couldn’t even sip tea without burning my tongue.

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Artwork by Tanya Shatseva

I survived 20 years of life. That’s cause for celebration, even if the sky doesn’t glow for me. The main difference between this year and the year before that is probably just how much I have matured.

Once I turned 20, I was faced with a very real responsibility – growing the fuck up. Being 19 was the last time I could plead being a teenager.

Do I miss this trump card? I thought I would. Do I still reach for it as if it’s still in my pocket? You bet your ass, I do.

The earth didn’t exactly pause in its orbit the moment I was born one humid Monday night in a Lester hospital, and it didn’t twenty years later either. The occasion was marked poignantly by my mother, who not only was celebrating my birthday, but the moment she officially became a mother. Every milestone and accomplishment in my life belongs, in part, to her as well.

My eyes were closed for my teenage years, and my mother had to remind me again that my eyes are hers, and she will not let me screw them shut any longer. I opened my eyes, witnessed everything I chose to ignore about myself, and realized that there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut.

“You are my eyes, and I want you to see the world for me.” My mother never misses an opportunity to tell me this. Any moment I have self-doubt, or feel like a failure, I am reminded to open my eyes for her.

…there’s a marked difference between walking through the dark, and walking with your eyes determinedly shut. [Click to tweet!]

I have survived twenty years of existence, and now I am now en route of my twenty-first, I have decided not only to survive, but thrive. This sounds a bit tired, since everyone has a bit of a resolution when they get older, usually more and more sombre with every passing year.

My resolution, however, isn’t just to sit down and grow up – I want to grow. Perhaps now I am resourceful enough to actually push myself to do so, now, with eyes wide open.

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Siren Song

I remember my first voyage into the eye of a storm.

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artwork by elesq

It began as an inbred curiosity, the sort of thing you repress until it feels like if you don’t venture out, you might as well shrivel into nothing. I untied myself from the dock, and let the waves carry me out to where I thought I might be meant to be.

I could taste the purple storm building on the horizon with familiar bitterness, clouding around me until I was roped into an inevitable disaster. Continue reading “Siren Song”

Before Him

huigorou
artwork by Dahui Wang

Date a boy who doesn’t love you.

Date a boy whose eyes hold the stars and the moon, a boy whose hands are warm because they hold the sun. Date a boy who looks through you, searching something else in the crowd. Date a boy who makes you realize your own inconsequence, a boy who takes and takes until you are left with nothing but dusty text messages that once made your world spin. Date a boy whom you love, but doesn’t love you back.

Date a boy whom you don’t love. Continue reading “Before Him”

Cocoon

First was the worst. A vampire sucking me dry until I was white, so that purple is blooming underneath my eyes, red leaking from my lips.

Money tree leaves rustle from in the kitchen, swathed in the beige shadow of the blinds. The sink is dripping. The solitary sound reverberates, beating into my bird bones so that I begin to crack.

Second was a jest. Dark summer eyes and calloused hands that felt rough when they brushed against mine.

The entire city freezes. The people look up to the sky, and the chatter in my brain is replaced by their wistful howls that surround me like a hymn. It grows louder and louder and my teeth start to grit, muscle memory prompting me to smile painfully because that was all I’ve ever known how to do.

Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor
Artwork by Carolina Rodríguez Fuenmayor

Third is you, now, pulling me against your golden chest.

My heart, stilled, begins to swell. My tongue starts to buzz with the taste of every particle that is colored by your pulse against my cheeks.

Like a cocoon you envelop me, your soft light collapsing on me, and I want to stay here forever, with your breathing as my melody. My forehead rests in the crook of your neck, the hollow where your heartbeat cuts into the chatter filling my confused head.

Your heartbeat shields me, and my cracks begin to shrink.

Like a cocoon you envelop me, your soft light collapsing on me, and I want to stay here forever, with your breathing as my melody. [Click To Tweet!]

pride nasha
Artwork by pride_nyasha

Your arms are pink, hot when they wrap around my waist and pull me in closer. I am tipped over into a sea of warmth that purifies me as your hands curl over my head, twisting tendrils of my hair between your fingers as my eyes open and capture your dozing face into the webs of my memory. I breathe in the particles you exhale, and I let it settle into me like dust just as your body goes slack with heavy sleep.

Your silhouette rises and falls, like a mountain bending to the wind, and I, the raven circling above it, slicing into the cold air, besotting the sky.

Closing my eyes again, I let all the colors swirl into non-existence. The world falls silent, and all that exists is you and me, in limbo, forever.

First was the worst, second was a jest. Third holds me close to him, and I let real love, finally, manifest.

Holes In The Sky

Everyone dies someday.

“But not you!”

No. Even I will die, one day.

“But I don’t want you to die one day. Mommy and Baba might die one day, but you’re gonna live forever.”

Stars are just holes poked into the sky so the people who are behind it can look through and see who they left behind. [Click To Tweet!]

Do you really want that? Do you want me to live forever?

“Yeah. You can’t die, you’re gonna live forever.”

And what about you? Are you going to live forever, too?

“I don’t know. Yeah.”

You don’t sound too sure.

“I didn’t think about it ’til now.”

Okay, well think of it this way. Everyone dies one day, and they can go to heaven. We can all live in heaven together and be happy. Do you still want me to live forever, and not come to heaven, too? Do you want your sister to be lonely?

“Why do we have to go to heaven? Why can’t we just stay here?”

Do you know what heaven is?

“Where people go when they die.”

Well, yes. Do you know what heaven looks like?

“No. Do you? Have you been there before?”

I don’t know, maybe I have. Heaven looks different for everyone. To me, heaven is a garden where we can all play and be together.

“Really? We play soccer and lie next to each other at night when we wanna go to sleep?”

Yeah, totally. Actually, Mamani is there already, waiting for us to come join her one day.

“Mamani is in heaven?”

Oh, yeah. For sure. And guess what – she’s happy there.

“How do you know?”

She told me! I had a dream where Mamani and I were sitting together, and she was making tea like she always did. That’s how people in heaven talk to us sometimes, through dreams. When I asked her if she was happy, she said yes.

“Really? She said that?”

Yes, she said that. She says that heaven is on the other side of the sky. People who are gone like to keep an eye on us, and tell us which way to go when we’re lost.

“Where is she? Can I say hi to her?”

Of course you can. Just look up at your favourite star and wave. Stars are just holes poked into the sky so the people who are behind it can look through and see who they left behind.

“Behind the sky? Like space? So Mamani is an astronaut!”

You’re totally right, Mamani is an astronaut. She’s floating above earth in heaven and looks through the stars to say hi.

“Hi! I’m waving, Mamani! Can you see me?”

I’m sure she can.

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Artwork by heartsnmagic on Tumblr

Paradise

When I left, I was given the task of deciding what my heaven should look like.

I would walk into heaven and decide it was green. Heaven would be lush with the creations that had fallen from His fingers. Paradise would be blooming, juices dripping from petals that sparkled when they caught the white sunlight. Heaven would be buzzing, whizzing through time and space. Golden hour brings silver showers, so that I am immersed in the natural artistry that He has created for His children.

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Artwork by Maria Uve

I would immerse myself in heaven and decide it was blue. The dance of the water would write messages in the shadows of the ripply sand, so that I can capture it, place it in a bottle, and set it adrift to the shores of the space I used to occupy when I was mortal. Schools of fish would scurry past, tokens of color amongst the coral reef that sways to the strong current enrapturing my heart. The weight of the ocean would feel like nothing on my shoulders, renewed through judgement, guided to the next world. A gigantic green turtle lets me rest my palm on her shell, a tiger shark pokes his head around the corner and swims through the schools of fish so that they part to reveal infinity, and I am pulled in as if I were flying.

I set my pencil down onto the pages of time, wishing to turn space into something beautiful. Now was the time to decide, once and for all, what my heaven would look like. [Click to Tweet!]

maria ive 2
Artwork by Maria Uve

I would fly into heaven and decide it was black. Shards of light would pierce through my eyelids, so that I open them with the strength to see. I would twirl dust and gas into a ball of light, and watch it explode into a million different pieces. My star would glow white hot, and I would let it swallow me whole. I would be resurrected, my body spread thin across the universe across a plane of existence I can only taste and feel. My star would be a beacon, a fire burning away at my edges until I am clean. My skin hisses, steam begins to rise, and I am placed like a puzzle piece back where I came from. From dust and ash, rocks and bones.

I ascended to heaven and decided it was mine. I took it and twisted it into my weapon of choice – a pencil. I held it poised, infused with the very dust, ash, rocks, and bones that made up my once physical body. I set my pencil down onto the pages of time, wishing to turn space into something beautiful. Now was the time to decide, once and for all, what my heaven would look like.

Without a single doubt I etched your name amongst the stars. Heaven was you all along.

Why And How I Developed Self-Control #WorkForHappy

megan brewty
Artwork by Megan Brewty

Upon my second and last visit to the hospital, I realized something essential that transformed my outlook on life forever: being depressed is a hell of a lot easier than being happy. I had just realized that the support of my loved ones had run out, and I was officially on my own.

It was time to turn my life around, and I would only have one chance at it. It was now or never. It was life and death.

This is a new self-care series where I will be exploring how to be a better person in my struggle with mental illness. My first lesson: developing self-control.

I Almost Destroyed Myself… Here’s Why Self-Control Is Essential

Continue reading “Why And How I Developed Self-Control #WorkForHappy”