Nemesis

One eye is enough, two eyes satisfy. When I catch you, rest assured it’ll be classy. I won’t cause your hurt, but I will definitely make it a point to be there and put pressure on the wound. I just have to step back and watch you unravel, then clap and smile like the belle of the hero, in a chagrined manner, with a stunning smile. I’ll make eye contact with you, but I won’t dare say a word. Good girls don’t get their feet wet. I don’t need to, anyway.

Nemesis, by Alfred Rethal (1837)

I put on a sequined dress so I can catch the light just right. I want to be glaring. Look at me, darling. Look at me sparkle. Watch me blow smoke. Inhale it so you can have one more taste of me. I know you love to hate it. Remember when you hated to love me? Remember when I coughed up blood because you were thirsty?

Now you’re shaking. You desecrated me, remember? You disrespected my girlhood, sneered at my ideas of justice, purity. You put me on a pedestal so that you could rip it from underneath me. You forgot I have wings though. You forgot they are dirtier than you. I may be fair, but my heart is blacker than you could imagine.

Kneel, criminal. Beg, vagrant. This is what you asked for, of course. I’m shining too brightly, now. The chaos overtook me, ravaged me, ripped me apart, and now I am steel. My fury is Hellenistic. You couldn’t have possibly foreseen this, but that is the white hot anger of justice you have awakened in me.

My blade is steel, cool, chilling on your sallow cheek. Feel the relief of that sensation before I make a cut, and brand you. The traitor. My traitor. My ickle baby daddy. Stain on the cloth of humanity. Vermin.

I am immaculate, I have taken the crown of thorns and placed it on my head. I’m telling you this because it’s a secret that will bind you to my throne forever.

Wink, wink, hubby. Welcome to the final act.

Hint: it’s a tragedy.

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Stars, Hide Your Fires; Let Not Light See My Black And Deep Desires

Maybe it’s just us. The way we interact. The poisoned lips that speak magic, emit smoke. Perhaps I am just foolish, or incredibly ahead of the curve, but I think I know who you are, now.

I think you are someone who is hurt.

I see myself in you and I think it’s the reason why we are like this. Like that. Rash, backwards, sneering. I want to save my reflection before the ripples mar its beauty. Nothing lasts forever. It’s what I tell myself as I replay our conversations before I fall asleep thinking about the angles that make up your silhouette.

The moon has a dark side, but you are dark matter. I am supposed to be the illumination, the bright side, the play. You are the mass around it, the dark that weighs heavy on shoulders late at night, the kind that swallows people whole as they remember their own insignificance. Maybe you were brought here to remind people of that. I sure as hell know it when I look at you, and your eyes pass over mine.

I don’t think I’m gonna be able to keep my head above the water. I am supposed to be the lighthouse but I’ve become the jagged rocks underneath, hiding, snarling in the dark, washed in black. I feel stained, as if with blood I can’t wash off my hands over and over and over. The knife that set the tone of you and I, that cut into our skin to mark the beginning of our lives on the trampled grass of a battle ground. This is the same knife that separates us.

You’ve turned your back on me. I am alone, when I had only ever meant to draw you close. Now you follow the glistening apparition glittering before you instead of the cracked sound of my voice. My voice is curdled now.

I look down at the jagged rocks, and I know I am one of them. Taking a deep breath, I imagine you lurking in the castle we built together, one that is now crumpling from the inside.

I take a deep breath –

Dear Boy

Hey!

I know this is a little out of nowhere and it’s been a while since we’ve talked, but I just wanted to tell you a couple last things before we inevitably lose each other to oblivion.

Please know that you had an impact on my life. You weren’t just someone on a string I played with once in a while. You were a real person to me, and always will be. Never doubt that how much I valued your time. I know I took advantage of your love for me, and I can’t take that back. I hope you learned from me as much as I learned from you – while the lessons I taught you were more bitter than sweet, I hope the taste lingered on like it did for me, either way.

It was just bad timing. I was going through a lot, and that’s no excuse. If we met just a little earlier, maybe God’s plan would have been different for us. I know you don’t believe in fate, and I don’t either. Our time together is mere proof of that. If fate was kind and indeed existed, I would have been able to love you as deeply as you did me. That didn’t happen. I wish it could have, because I think we had a lot to offer each other.

Whatever I was going through shouldn’t have become the focal point of our relationship. I wish I could have understood sooner that I was succumbing to something much larger and darker than you or I, so that I could have warned you to stay away. This isn’t some Twilight fantasy. I hope that you learned not to love someone like me that hard ever again. People should deserve your love. It shouldn’t be just given away.

I am eternally grateful for the amount of energy you put into saving me. You couldn’t save me. I had to save myself. Leaving you was what I had to do to realize that. It sucks. I wish that wasn’t the case. It just sucks.

I am happy now, and I think you are too. I couldn’t be more proud of the both of us. I don’t think we would have achieved this if we continued side by side. Whether or not you agree… I’m happy for you. I feel for you. I love you, but not the way you thought or wanted. You don’t want that anymore, and I honestly never did. I think you knew that.

I do love you, in my own far away way. I will always admire you, but I will continue to do so from afar.

Thank you, again, for all the joy you have given me. I keep it on my bookshelf, silent but ever-present, appreciated but never touched. That’s how we ended up. That’s not a bad thing.

Here’s to oblivion. I hope it carries us further into a fog of content.

I wish you all the best.

Love,

Girl

What Having Haters Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful

I could never fathom how someone would go out of their way to be nasty to another human being. What sort of satisfaction does it serve? Is it a rush, perhaps? An outlet?

When I wrote “What Having a Big Nose Taught Me About Feeling Beautiful”, I knew I was putting myself out there a little bit. For most of my life I figured that as long as I don’t publicly acknowledge that I have a “unique” nose, other people wouldn’t either.

I was right. Once I acknowledged it, other people couldn’t help themselves in having a say either.

Having exposed this insecurity and my relationship with it, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. I got messages and comments telling me that my confidence (such as it were) had inspired them to take some steps towards accepting themselves as well. I got messages saying that the uniqueness of my nose was beautiful and nothing to be ashamed about. Hell, someone even told me that my post had made them see their gender dysphoria in a new light, looking for their inner self rather than what they looked like to affirm their new gender identity. It was inspiring for me, and made that insecurity pretty much shrink to nothing. 

Then some teenager on my Instagram called my nose ugly in Swedish and, what’s more, tagged a friend to affirm it. 

I’ll say that, for the record, I wasn’t at all effected by the ensuing comments that included multiple barf emojis from these adolescents hailing from across the world. Standing in Canada, far away Sweden was non-existent in my breadth of understanding. What’s more, my ever-lasting compassion, a quality that even I acknowledge is quite a landmark in my personality, extended even to these poor girls.

The picture in question, which I honestly am kind of proud of – like I said in the caption – “This is an incredibly personal post for me

What’s funny is that whenever you see anyone on the internet acknowledge negativity, there is always a mention of how one should feel sorry for haters and trolls on the internet. I didn’t think much of it until I had a brush with this negativity myself. I felt bad for them –  actually, first I thought it was funny, then I felt sympathy. I had tagged the photo showing off my nose #bignose and #rhinoplasty, which I have no doubt is what landed these girls on my page in the first place. Self-esteem is hard to come by these days, even for these girls who are, admittedly, quite pretty themselves. They were most likely looking for someone that they could call uglier than themselves. Commenting on my picture that I have an ugly nose probably made them feel better about themselves, because they could proudly say that they don’t have my ugly nose, so there’s that. They might feel crippling despair when they look in the mirror, but in their heads, they are making me feel even worse than them. That is a comfort. I’m not assuming they knew what they were doing. That kind of mean-spirited insecurity is very subconscious.

If they were to read this right now, they would probably comment that that’s not at all what it is – “you just have an ugly nose” they would say. They’re right, perhaps I do have an ugly nose. But at least I don’t feel a need to put others down, for whatever reason.

In the end, who is more beautiful? The person who spreads negativity and puts down others for the parts they cannot change, or the person who tries to spread positivity and minds their own business? 

Someone who has true self-love will not feel the need to point out flaws in other people. I don’t want anyone to feel that way, because I know what it feels like to feel worthless… but at least I didn’t cope by putting other people down too. That I can proudly say. 

In the end, they deleted their comments. It was a losing battle, after all. While I didn’t engage with them, people who cared for me did. It’s not something I wanted, but I got messages from people I’ve never met before telling me that I am beautiful. I never doubted that I am beautiful –  if anything, I feel more beautiful, not just because of the whole “rising above the bullshit” stuff, but also literally just out of spite. I don’t have a unique nose after all. I have a big ugly one. But hell, it’s my nose. Only I can put my nose down, not some silly broken teenager on the internet – my insecurity belongs to me. I will fiercely protect it. 

I’m no online personality, but in a strange twist of events having one or two haters definitely elevated my self confidence. Who’d have thought?

Definitely not those girls. 

New Year, New Chance #WorkForHappy

Resolutions are not just for the new year. I know that because my resolutions started in the middle of fall 2017. Rather than fireworks, I started this fresh new chapter of my life in the aftermath of a breakdown that had repeated itself countless times before. I can’t say a breakdown isn’t comparable to fireworks in inventing a new me with a bang though, except this one involved less pretty colors and much more nasal congestion afterwards.

Artwork by Elliana Esquivel

I resolved to be a better person. It’s a huge ask, but I think I’m on track. Whatever ailments of the mental kind that dogged me constantly before became a minimal concern. I weaned off medication eventually, invigorated with a new outlook on life – I would work hard and develop my mental immunity. Sure, I still catch the occasional bout of anxiety or feel the virus of depression seep back into my veins every now and then, especially when I overwork or feel overwhelmed, but it’s just that: a cold. A sick day. I am back on my feet in no time and feel better than ever. At the end of the day, I am much stronger and cognizant of my mental health.

I count myself lucky. I want to tell you something I wish someone told me when I was in that dark place.

It’s all on you. It’s all on you.

You have to build the strength to face whatever struggles on your own. No one can do that for you. No one can make you better. You have to be resolved to get better. 

There’s this trend of wallowing in self pity and staying mentally sick forever because it’s “valid”. Don’t fall for it. While mental conditions cannot be prevented most of the time and most people will most likely suffer with it for the rest of their lives (including me!), that doesn’t mean you can’t manage it. Listen, managing your mental health does not make you any less sick. For example, someone who is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer doesn’t equate them to healthy, they are attempting to manage their illness and save their life. Taking care of your mental well being by going to therapy and, I can’t stress this enough, actually listening and doing what you  are instructed to do is a mentally sick person’s way of undergoing intensive treatment to manage their illness and, yes, save their life.

Before anyone comes for my wig or whatever: no, I am not saying that mental illness is not a real illness. I’ve been through it. Hell, I’ve been put in hospital for it and have met people with all kinds of problems and mental and physical struggles. After witnessing the struggles of so many people and going through it myself, I would be the last person to say that mental illness is not real, or that anyone with a mental illness can be cured if they just changed their outlook on life or took responsibility or whatever. I am well aware that’s not how it works. I will never forget the freshman highschooler I met with an anger problem whose eyes lit up at the mention of Melanie Martinez. I will never un-see the rough tough gangster 25-year-old with knife marks all up and down his arms and the way he hugged his little Italian grandma when she came to visit. I most certainly will never forget code whites.

What I am saying is this, and read this very carefully: nothing will get better so long as you do not truly want to get better. For as long as you surrender yourself to doubt, resentment, or settlement, you will remain as you are.


This is just something I wish I knew when I was in the depths of my sickness, because God knows I could have gotten better a hell of a lot quicker if I had known that seeking treatment isn’t admitting defeat, or uncoolly swerving some weird cultural internet trend of being depressed.

If you doubt yourself, you will not get better. You must truly believe that you can do it in order to be successful. If you feel occasional doubt, turn to someone who can reinstate it. Find the people in your life that support you in getting better but do not attempt to control your getting better. Appreciate these people, and support them when you are able to in return.

If you resent your situation or whatever treatment it takes to get better, you will not get better. If you resent your therapist’s methods or your support system or your illness or whatever else, nothing can be done because your focus will always be concentrated on the wrong things. Let go. Find the right treatment for you and focus on yourself. Focus on how you can make yourself stronger, more open, and healed. Celebrate your victories, and acknowledge then move on from the mistakes. This could happen to anyone. It happened upon you. Appreciate your struggle for what it is: a hurdle to get over. An obstacle to overcome.

If you settle for whatever you are feeling now, you will not get better. Things do not magically mend themselves. It takes dedication and change. If change scares you, then get over that fear because it will hold you back for the rest of your life. Bettering yourself takes hard work, and as long as you are willing to do that hard work and welcome the changes that come along with it, and that includes taking full accountability for your mistakes and working to fix them, then you can heal yourself more and more. Be objective as possible. Own up, fess up, and put up. This is about changing yourself. That means getting off your ass even when it’s hard, and going for it.


Artwork by Elliana Esquivel

I worked my ass off to get to the level I am now. Am I done? No! Will I ever be done? Who knows?! I can always go into remission (as one would say in keeping with this whole cancer-is-like-mental-illness metaphor), but you fight it anyway. You take care of yourself. You listen to your body and mind. You make healthy choices with the help of your medical practitioner, therapist, psychiatrist, loved one, role model, mentor, mom, dad, grandma, cool book, fandom, ER nurse, whatever. 

At the end of the day, this is about you. If wallowing in self pity and wondering why nothing is turning out right is something you want to spend the rest of your life doing, then go ahead. This is just something I wish I knew when I was in the depths of my sickness, because God knows I could have gotten better a hell of a lot quicker if I had known that seeking treatment isn’t admitting defeat, or uncoolly swerving some weird cultural internet trend of being depressed.

If it takes the new year to put your life into perspective, then to hell with it. I will always encourage people to do what they think is best to make them happy. That being said, sometimes it takes a little kick in the ass to get going on that. Sometimes what we think for ourselves isn’t the best thing for us. That’s what friends, family, and healthcare is for.

Take advantage of this new year. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and believe that this will be the year you better yourself for real. Set goals, work towards something, and watch yourself become the person you would have looked up to a year ago.

Best of luck. And happy new year.

Break Up 1, Scene 3

Sometimes she is powerless in the execution of control over her own inhibitions. She feels her emotions too strongly and her heart warms with terrifying sensation, quickening to the pace of her thoughts as they begin to run wild. She peeks behind the curtain of his iris, and sees a thousand million trillion neurons, connecting, dazzling, snapping at her senses as her medulla works into overdrive to make this moment end fast, cut short, be gone.

In a single moment time will become irrelevant. All that exists is the space between their two bodies, the overwhelming awareness of their breathing, and the weight of the words that they both know in an instant would fall off her tongue too easily for comfort. The jolting sound of a spotlight igniting makes their chests contract, as does the silence of a million eyes watching, the ghosts of a past that dwindled to nothing.  

He watches her lips formulate the first syllable as if his eyelids had been pinned to his forehead. It was like torture out of a novel scene, forced to watch something die in front of you so that it is memorialized in your brain. His cerebral cortex is abuzz with fresh blood as she moves on to the next consonant, zapped to life out of a slumber so that he feels like he has just brutally woken up to a horrifying reality he thought was just a dream. 

It’s happening. He can’t believe this is happening. The sound of her voice is oddly flat. Impassive. Final.

“This is stage fright. It’s a physical reaction to shock. The consequences of heartbreak hasn’t set in quite yet.” [Click To Tweet!]

She knows he asks questions if the answer is already plain, otherwise he wouldn’t dare. He’s just too much of a coward to say it himself. She thinks she knows. Even in this moment, she thinks she has him all figured out, like with the crescendo in the sound of his footsteps as he came home from work, or the heaviness of his shoulders when he was focusing on a task. If she hadn’t figured him out then she wouldn’t be playing this game with him in the first place. She wouldn’t say what she is in the middle of saying right now. In this moment. Irretrievably.

It took him a second to realize that she is finished. He blinks. 

She said it. 

Now he won’t have to. 

Bitter relief mixed in with adrenaline, racing through his veins with a barely contained excitement – not the kind of excitement he had felt ages ago when she smiled at him for the first time, or let certain I, L, Y letter words sneak out from between her lips. This was the kind of excitement that came right after driving into a ditch and realizing you had survived. This is stage fright. It’s a physical reaction to shock. The consequences of heartbreak hasn’t set in quite yet. 

“Good.” He is in the middle of blurting this out when she finally looks away and their cord of communion breaks. He has a notion that he will take to bleeding inwardly. She however, he is sure, would forget him. 

“Good.” She doesn’t put her vocals into traction when she ghosts his own speech, instead letting the word echo and fall into the space between them, filling the void with something mutually acceptable to both of them. It is the first time they are agreeing on anything. Or at least, in this moment, this irretrievable moment, they do. 

It does not matter that in the matter of weeks, they will close that gap again and continue on renewed, rejoiced, and heavy. It does not matter that this moment will chatter before suddenly falling quiet. On a snowy white night in Dresden eleven years from now this moment will claw itself back out from the depths of their hippocampuses. By then, crescendos will not matter. 

For now, they breathe. The hot light dims. The curtain falls. They are thrown into the dark, and walk off the stage in opposite directions.

On to the next scene. 

Breaking the Cycle of Silent Treatment #WorkForHappy

sinashagrai2
Artwork by Sina Shagrai

Here’s the God honest truth about silent treatment – dishing it out feels like sweet justice. It’s the kind of satisfaction that makes you a little power-hungry, especially when it works over and over again.

On the flip side, being on the receiving end of silent treatment stings. You feel like you have to swallow your pride and give in, or suffer a drawn out punishment that maybe you don’t deserve.

Having been on both ends of the deal, I think I have a pretty good idea of the pros and cons of silent treatment.

Spoiler – there are no pros. It’s all cons.

Breaking the cycle takes a lot of guts and twice as much resilience, but I promise that it is so incredibly rewarding to break out, no matter which side you’re playing. Ultimately, this is just what I realized through my experiences. You can take it or leave it, but I’m not going to stay silent about it.

After all, that’s sort of the point.

Powerful vs. Powerless

I realized the behaviour I was choosing actually contributed to people walking out on me, and in a state of blissful ignorance, I’d say “good riddance”. Then I lost almost everyone, and I was forced to figure out what the trend was.

I realized that having fallen for it every time someone pushed the behaviour on me, I had subconsciously decided that silent treatment was the most effective way to get what I want.

After all, I always gave in. I can make people give in to me as well. Right? Continue reading “Breaking the Cycle of Silent Treatment #WorkForHappy”