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.

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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.

maria ive 1
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”

Sugar Sweet

Poking his head out of his little gray room, he notices that her bed in the room across the hall is a mess. It’s also empty.

Fuck. 

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Artwork by Frederic Forest

He throws on a robe hanging on the bathroom door, heavy from the humidity of his hasty shower, and catches a glance of himself in the hallway mirror. He averts his gaze, and makes his way down to the kitchen.

Though he tries to go unnoticed by his better half, she turns her pretty head immediately and catches him descending the stairs. Her hair is too immaculate for the early hours of a Saturday, and the ring on her finger is glittering too harshly.

“Good morning, honey.”

Continue reading “Sugar Sweet”

Life Looks Gorgeous On You

When I sit on the train, I like to people watch. Their faces are like blank canvases to me. They stare with dead eyes at the advertisement that’s been plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head, some pensive, some exhausted, others wearing a simply inscrutable expression.

To pass the time, I begin to familiarize myself with these strangers in my head.

I picture these strangers laughing. Crying. Sighing. Seeing a blue sky after a rainy week, the soft expression of surprise when they get an unexpected call from someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.

I imagine anger, how it colors some people red or blue or purple or white, how they might sob out of frustration, or assume a dead rocky silence in the face of giving up on someone after a fighting match.

blob of the day by henrik aa uldalen
Blob Of The Day by Henrik Aa Uldalen

I envision hope. How these strangers might perk up at the sound of a loved one’s footsteps as they finally get home, or become shy when they see someone after they had gone out on their first date. How they might bite their lip as they open a much anticipated email, or grind their teeth when their team almost scores.

And what of the triumphant smirk that graces these strangers’ lips when they make several people laugh, or the shared pointed glare at fellow colleagues when the boss is being ridiculous again? Consider, the way they close their eyes and take a deep breath as they hug someone they missed, or the swell of pride in their chests when they begin to understand a complicated lesson and answer a question right.

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Life Studies, Emilio Villalba

I think about how gorgeous these strangers must look when they’re happy. How heart-broken I would be to see them sad. I think about how these people care for others, how they have dreams, aspirations, how absolute strangers can become the closest companions after relating about something or other, how they develop relationships that last entire lifetimes, all by accident.

I watch, almost with a hint of regret, when my fellow transit passengers, strangers who I’ve got to know so intimately in my mind, get off at their stop. I never see them again.

I will never get to see these strangers again, happy, sad, angry, hopeful, triumphant. I will never know them beyond the picture I drew of them, framed neatly in my mind until they blur, like the landscapes whizzing past outside my train window.

I will never know these strangers so deeply. I have to remind myself that even though I have known some people this way, a lot of them have faded out nonetheless. A once golden tapestry now dusty in the basement of my memory. What’s the point? Even I am a stranger to myself. Though I should arguably know myself better than anyone, I haven’t witnessed these imagined moments on my own face either. That’s up to others to enjoy.

I usually sigh and return my gaze to an advertisement plastered above a fellow transit passenger’s head with a pensive, exhausted, or inscrutable expression.

Life looks so gorgeous on you, I think. I might have never seen it, but trust me.

I can imagine.

Fixing Yourself: A Brief Look At My Mission For Self-Improvement #WorkForHappy

I have an incredibly flawed personality. The first sign was probably around the time I got diagnosed with an actual personality disorder – unspecified – after my behavior led to a pretty self-destructive, “self-prescribed” binge behaviour. Honestly? I never actually considered it problematic for a long time.

Clearly, it was everyone else with the problem. Tsk, tsk.

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Artwork by Christian Russo

The problem with having a diagnosis that’s “unspecified”, especially when it concerns something as intangible as personality, is that the solution to your problem is also unspecified. At that point, all the doctors could prescribe me was a harsh slap to the face when it came to my true reality.

Now it’s like every move I make, I scrutinize. When I’m an asshole, I usually know it. A little bit of denial doesn’t hurt, until that becomes a flaw as well.

Do other people think like this? I’ll probably never know, but the scrutiny I have adopted has become both a blessing and a curse. I’m able to look at myself objectively and understand that whatever behavior I’m choosing is not appropriate. It’s like a super power, because I now understand mine and other people’s motivations and reasoning with everything they do. I get it now, when someone is an asshole. I do. Because I can do it too, sometimes.

But with great power comes great responsibility, or something like that.

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“Infinite Introspection”, by Francisca Borzea

I recognize my behavior, but do I actually do anything about it? Well… I’m trying. It took me years to figure out that I was wrong, and another year to come to terms with the mistakes I had made in the process. Do I regret these mistakes? Of course. But would I change it? Not at all. I am the person I am today because of what I have struggled with.

That being said, I’ve been trying to actually prevent such things happening ever again, but that takes a little more work than just some introspection. I have to actually change my habits, my mood, and, well, my personality. I’ve had to heal those wounds, and now I have to take actions so that I don’t inflict them on myself or others ever again.

What do I have on the agenda to actually fix about myself? There are the common pitfalls, like procrastination, lack of sensitivity, and impatience. Then there are the big ones, like bad attitude, lack of responsibility/motivation, dependence on others, and over-thinking. At this point, all I can really do is acknowledge what I’m doing wrong, be aware of problematic behavior, and seek to replace it with healthier moves by developing better, healthier habits. Of course, that’s easier said than done, but… I have the privilege of being surrounded by people who care enough to call me out on my bullshit when I miss it.

Go and love someone exactly as they are. Then watch how they transform into the greatest, truest version of themselves. When one feels seen and appreciated in their own essence, one is instantly empowered. —Wes Angelozzi

The people around me… man oh man. I’m lucky, so incredibly lucky, to have such a strong network of people who care about me deeply enough to not only forgive me when I mess up, but support me in my journey to become a better person. I’m just so grateful that I now have the foresight of actually understanding the magnitude of how lucky I am. Privilege can be a lot of different things for different people, but for me, true privilege is having the support of people around you.

Like I said, this process is a blessing and a curse. You can feel hopeless sometimes, like you’re gonna be stuck being a bad person forever and that you’ll never be worthy of love – this is a common late-night thought that induces panic attacks for me – so I’ve learned to become aware of my good qualities too. I have a strong sense of maternal instinct. I am a compassionate person. I’m smart enough to succeed, when I put my mind to it. I can write, draw, sing, laugh. I even make other people smile, from time to time. I love others, and they love me. I repeat that last bit like its a mantra whenever my mood dips below the dark surface.

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Artwork by Mari Toh

Do I deserve love? That’s something I still grapple with, and honestly, it’s probably the main question that drives my mission for self-improvement. For a long time, I didn’t think I deserved the love I got from others, and that was because deep down, I knew that I was a fuck up.

But now, I want to deserve it.

I have an incredibly flawed personality. But flaws make the human, and the human can only work hard to rectify those flaws. And this is me doing that.

This is me. I’m the one with the problem.

And… I’m fixing it.