A Return to Self.

During an appointment with my therapist in early October, I lamented that for two straight months, I hadn’t accomplished anything. Yes, starting a new school year is stressful. Yes, I was managing significant personal turmoil. But wasn’t goal-setting supposed to help me through that? Give me something to focus on, to work toward? Why was I failing?

Her advice: don’t set any goals in October. Just exist. Do the necessary things on a day to day basis, but use October to stop putting pressure on myself to always be working toward something.

I’m a planner, a goal-driven person. So it seemed counter-intuitive. But after a week, I noticed I felt more relaxed. Like I could breathe. So I took October off from the self-imposed expectations, and it really was quite wonderful.

So here it is, November 1, and I’m feeling restored. I feel like I can return to my planning, goal-driven self. Including…

NANOWRIMO!

Wish me luck. I will definitely need it this time around.

A Note about Heartbreak

I told a friend recently that writing and being vulnerable is sometimes like having food poisoning–you know that once you puke you’ll feel better, but you also don’t want to puke. So consider this post as me having a touch of food poisoning. But also, I’m hoping this might be a survival guide for someone else.

Anytime I have my heart broken, I turn to past relationships and try to figure out how long it took for me to no longer be sad, because I just want to stop being sad. But I never do find a conclusive time span, so this time, I tried something different.

I’ve always believed that my heart never fully repairs from being broken; that little shards of my heart will always belong to men I’ve loved. As a visual exercise inspired by Mari Andrew, I realized that’s not fully true. Behold: sketches of my heart from 1991-2019:

This one wasn’t in my book, FYI.
This one took a good three years to heal.
1998-2000 was ROUGH.
This guy.
Look at who isn’t here anymore…

Every time I drew a new version of my heart, I reflected on how much of my heart truly still belonged to these people. I was actually surprised by my 2019 heart–that really, of all my relationships, there’s only two that still hold space in my heart, and that somehow my heart regenerated over the scars of the other breaks.

The other piece that struck me was how much of my heart I still had to give after every heartbreak. When I’m in the middle of it, when I can’t see more than the next tissue before the next tear falls, when I feel actual real pain despite not having any visible bruises or scratches or breaks, I forget that there is still space in my heart to love the people who are still in my corner.

And boy, did those people show up last month.

It’s time for me to get up off the mat. I have big goals for September that I’ll write about another time, maybe. But for now, I’ll just leave this here, and maybe a heartbroken someone will stumble across this someday, and draw iterations of her heart, and realize she will heal and she still has plenty of love to give.

Poem #3: Meander, Take Time

Gooey-eyed, with a ring as my ultimate goal,
My mother drove north on I-15, leaving me in her wake.
I went to classes
(sometimes)
I took tests
(failed many)
I went on dates
(perhaps too many)
I lacked vision.

Three years later
Gripping the flaky leather steering wheel,
I turned into the base gate
Made my way to a beige and faceless building
I picked up a syllabus
(I missed them)
Touched the words on the page
(I missed them)
Doubted I’d succeed
(out of practice)

One year later
Four classes at once
A changed major
A changed mindset
A ring no longer my goal
I read voraciously
(Hawthorne, Anderson, O’Connor)
I wrote incessantly
(journals, papers, bibliographies)
I glimpsed a future I’d not before seen
(college graduate)

Five years later
Flanked by my father and my brother
We pose in front of a tree
Black square hat, black square gown
(Blue tassel)
We drive downtown
(despite traffic)
I walk across a stage
(Ringless)
A vision starts to unfold:
A Career
With accompanying endless opportunities
A vision I could not see nine years prior
I focus
I move
I choose
I succeed

Poem #2: End on a question

Pointless

I’ve read the greats as well as the unknowns
Gobsmacked at the similes, metaphors, synecdoche, metonymy
Inspired by the diction, the imagery
I swoon, I weep, I ponder—the depth and breadth of human emotion
Present in the lines and stanzas of good poetry
All of it leaves me to wonder:

Why add one more voice?
Why add one more verse?
Does the world need one more poet, when it barely pays attention
To the ones who already inspire?