breathing
 
this was written after one of the first times I cat sit for an author friend who is a queer & trans elder. Their place is lovely and their cat is very smol and pure. It's filled with sunlight and candles and tea kettles and soft blankets.  the bookshelves are full of poetry and books about healing from trauma and cool nifty subjects I don't know much about. it was a safe place, one of the first places I got to exist in away from my parents.  One night, very late, I wrote this:

The first couple of nights I spent alone, I didn’t breathe.

I still am not breathing. 

Like the only way I know how is under the crushing weight of my home

like the only way I know how to breathe is as a rebel, to make it into a revolutionary act, to use it as a tool for my remarkable survival, to say look, look, I breathed when they said it was impossible, aren’t I amazing? 

as soon as I am out from under that fist, I panic

I do not know how to take up space when it is easy.

note: I think there is more to add to this piece, especially as I move into this new phase of trying to explore and dedicate time to my passions and interests. I may add more to it later on, but for now let me say this: It was easier for me to do the bare minimum while in an extremely traumatic situation than it is to fully embrace myself and everything I want, now. When you're experiencing trauma with no real route to escape, everything in you is clenched, curled up, barricaded. You're desperately hanging on to someday until the time when things get better.  Well, I reached my someday. Now, I'm in the process of unfurling and stepping into my own being and my own life. It's not easy.

Our culture holds dear a false narrative about survivors of abuse and trauma. There's this idea that when things get better, things get better. It might be a little bittersweet, but the person is free and happy. Well. That's not (usually) how it works.

Some things I've experienced in the past month: longing to go back into the traumatic situation, guilt so intense it makes me nauseous, semi-hallucinations that stem from trauma, the belief that letting myself feel good will lead to more trauma, which leads to me sabotaging relationships and moments and experiences without even realizing it.

This is not to say it's not worth it, that holding on isn't worth it. It is.  I'm still processing severe amounts of trauma (and experiencing it currently, too) and I can already tell you that it's worth it. The future is glorious, and if you're in an awful situation right now, you deserve to see everything that your life can be. But recovery is not always an easy path. I wouldn't even call it a path, because that gives it the aura of inevitability, which discounts every single second people spend fighting to recover. It's more like trying to find your way through a pine forest in the dead of night. 

Anyways, so this is where I'm at now. Things are (getting) easy, but that doesn't mean I'm just going to heal. It means I have to learn to trust myself, people, and the world enough to let myself unfold into it, to start to grasp everything I want my life to be. As I talk about in my "What To Expect" section, that's a big part of why I'm starting this Patreon. I'd be honored if you'd join me for the journey.