Monday, May 30, 2016

Under the ice, the future stirred.



what could possibly be the evolutionary reasoning behind the subtlety and vastness of human emotions? It seems like a tide we are constantly helpless to be pulled into and rolled under.

In my anatomy class I have finally discovered the anatomical/emotional distance between my hands and my heart. There is a deep disconnect in my shoulders, pain I have always known and ignored for as long as I can remember - turns out the head of my humerus is struggling to stay in its socket, against all of the heavy things I ask it to do, ignoring its needs, disregarding its connection to my body completely.

I couldn't do certain things the other kids could on the playground, like the monkey bars, I remember the breathlessness of my frustration. After years of doing labor professionally, I stack an inhuman amount of weight on my shoulders, but can't manage a single pull up. In an emergency I could probably save everyone but myself. In a class on early developmental movement, we discussed what happens when a young child's hands are held over their heads as a way of teaching them how to walk, and something struck me about the question of agency, a child's ability to follow their desires or change their direction/level/methodology are mostly removed, a prop in a larger picture, possibly pulled up into more of an adult plane of existence than they may be quite ready for. Something about how fighting for agency often gets expressed by full body release we see children do to their parents reminds me deeply sharply of how I have responded to almost every sexual encounter I've had. When your hands are being held against your will, how can you catch yourself when you fall? How can you learn that your hands will support you when it is time to move through the world on your own?

I've run out of fingers and toes to count the generic, vacant men who have decided they wanted something that only lived inside of my body that I couldn't seem to communicate NO clearly to, no matter how specific my words, or cold and dry and still my body might have been. Why couldn't my hands rise up to protect me? I would put a man in the hospital for anyone else over less then what I have watched myself submit to, and like everyone else in my life who has failed me, so too have my own hands.

No wonder I struggled with feeling paralyzed after I graduated from art school. All I have ever known was how to give other people what they want. In the overwhelming deluge of life outside of school and its rules, homework assignments and seasons, I didn't know how to trust or rely on the power and skill residing in my hands. And since my hands have never been connected to my heart, the idea of moving from a place of love or desire is like hearing a foreign language that my hands can't speak, because they are dumb and blind to it.

I am dumb and blind to it.

I am not blameless in my sexual encounters. Something about the intensity of these individuals and their desire for something that momentarily wears my face, I find incredibly curious. When I witness a certain kind of glance, a heat, a catch in someone's throat, a flush, I become fiercely attuned to it, laying a magnifying glass onto the poor creature caught in my gaze, slowly setting them on fire. I have torn through labor crews, been inappropriately accosted by aging men who were my employers, I have had more than one loaded teacher student relationship, and my mentor in college, well, I crushed him. The only relationships I've been in, one with a man who was exactly twice my age (my 19 to his 38), and the other with a girl my age, and more destructive than I - were born out of this curious distraction, a way to get close to this feeling of wanting and pull it apart to see what it had to do with me. Having never had a sense of really being turned on or attracted to someone, age and gender didn't seem like adequate reasons to say no to someone's passionate interest, so I let the current draw me along as I studied them.

I have pulled the legs off so many bugs/people in my scientific investigation of the human heart. Nothing is colder then being in bed with me, or the lack of texts you will receive after I've locked the door behind you. My friend mentioned to me earlier that she isn't feeling a sense of need or longing for the person she is currently dating, and I am completely confused by ever wanting to feel those things for another human being. How exhausting and lonely it seems.

I don't understand desire, because I don't know if it is something I've ever felt. I don't think I've ever felt safe enough to have strong feelings about almost anything in my life. Maybe that's why I am so habit forming, so responsive to being inside of a Role or a Shape. It is defined by something outside of myself, and if I didn't have that to rely on, I'd be paralyzed. At least I can feel myself inside of the current. I went to art school because I spoke the language, riding on something that came naturally just like I rely on the connective tissue to hold my shoulder together. But language is useless with out something to say. Are hands useless without something to reach for?

I've noticed recently as I go through my daily motions, that there will be moments where the spaces around me suddenly seem intensely dimensional. Walking to the train the other day, it felt like my clothes were distinctly sitting on top of my skin, and my skin was sitting on top of the thing perceiving and thinking about it. In an exercise involving our hands exploring the ground around us, eyes closed, I had an experience I am still struggling to describe - an intelligence living in my hands took over for my eyes, and I felt/saw/perceived the edges of my sketchbook, its pages, the grain of the wood floor underneath me in a way that felt like I was seeing aspects of it that couldn't be witnessed through my eyes, a selfness that I hadn't been previously aware of. Everything feels different about being in my own body, and as the Roles I've been playing continue to be stripped away, and as I consciously give some of them up because they are no longer true... maybe I am able to see more of what I'm looking at, outside of what I need to survive within it. I am turning the magnifying glass inward, to set myself on fire - since no one else can do it for me. I wish I had understood that sooner, how much simpler that would have been, how much less bloody and frustrating.

It was a TV show about the Devil that helped me clarify the question I've been seeking the answer to. I stayed up all night to finish the entire season, I was transfixed - and I hate watching TV. The Lucifer character draws out everyone's deepest desires, his world circles around what lies underneath our intentions and how they drive our reaction to different circumstances.

If the Devil asked me what my deepest darkest desires are, I am afraid I would have no answer for him.

'You were born out of greatness and you will go back to it. In between those two events try to remember it.'

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Not a sentence, but a breath, a caesura.

'Was it a bittersweet goodbye?'
'Happy to see your brother but happy to have your space back before the next person?'

My friend sent me those texts as I sat on the bus after dropping my little brother and his friend off at the airport. Part of me was deeply offended that I could be so misunderstood, that someone would blow off something that lived its deep rich life inside of my blood, beating inside of my heart and flowing through my veins and his at the same time, in a sympathetic rhythm, more resonant than almost any connection I have in this lifetime. I thought about where that hurt came from, as I flipped back through the twinges in my heart, equal parts emotion and image anchoring them to physical sensations, concrete places that reside in various corners of my body.

A midnight phone call this last year, his voice heavy with tears. In his final year of college, his future bright and clear as dawn breaking and he had broken up with his girlfriend of four years. They had grown so much and so different from high school to then, and he knew it was time. I remember being like her, scared of the unfamiliar, clinging to a person to sustain me because I didn't know how to sustain myself. But he had someone to teach him how assessable the world was, he had me. I had no one when I was his age, so I felt for them both, in different ways. Unmooring himself to prepare for leaving our hometown, the womb of his university, the familial warmth of his childhood friends to be an advocate for his own future, something about leaving her sent him reaching out for me.

I know when it is time to be a mother. I know who he was calling for. Me and more than me, because our mother is unable to hear us or relate to us, lost in a world of her own construction that has no room for anyone else's needs. I saw what he couldn't, he has so embarrassed deep down, because he didn't want to be with her, but he didn't want her to be with anyone else. His childhood and his manhood lived inside of her memory, he had given all of it to her with time and circumstance, and I could feel his fear that those parts of himself might evaporate when she holds another man's hand. That they wouldn't mean anything anymore. That like a breadcrumb path in the woods, a rejection of his past might make it hard to find his way home. So he called me. Of course he called me.

Bittersweetness is the knowledge that I was receiving these midnight moments that belonged to someone else, that this rush of love and tenderness belongs to the person who birthed the voice on the other side of that phone. Bitter because I was doing someone else's job, Sweetness because of how much I loved doing it. Anger at the incompetence of our mother, coupled with the fierce Joy of knowing that unlike me, he had someone.

'How is your visit with your brother going?'
'How did it go?'

Another friend, another text asking me to qualify my experience with my baby brother in superficial terms. Both individuals I was texting with are people whom I share intimate, intellectual relationships with, whom would never want to hurt my feelings, yet seemed to have inadvertently thrown a punch that landed. I'm still out of breath from rereading that last text in particular. 'Good' is a stupid word that has no place in my experiential vocabulary. It isn't true or real, its a label, a box, a dead end.

That is the opposite of what this past week was for the both of us. His visit was a celebration of leaving the last bits of his childself behind, a specific rite of passage into his future. I knew he was coming to me, because I was Mother and Father, his degree in Construction Management may have something to do with my own career path, and he had no one else to talk to about learning how to use tools and gaining favor from the various trades working around him. To honor his passion I sent him a gift to help him build his first tool kit. My mother is trying to start a business doing reiki and tarot readings, feng shui and meditation, promising to help people find their 'authentic' selves. She has never been curious about who her own children are and what makes us our specific selves.

Years ago, when I tried to communicate to my grandmother what my mother is underneath the character she is playing, my mother got to her first, and no one will answer the phone when I call anymore. She tells them whatever she wants, and no one is curious to know me or about me in my own family. Like I have no childhood, like I was always an orphaned adult, I watched my past evaporate into artificial constructs my mother uses to support whatever her current character happens to be. My grandmother is telling everyone that I have an undiagnosed mental illness. But amidst all the yarn being spun, my younger siblings have managed to cling to my back as I escaped, thank god its so fucking strong. My best feature, really.

I knew he was coming for the mother part of me, but I didn't realize until the moment I saw him that he was coming to slay her.

After this previous summer working on his first construction site, he had developed a thickness in his chest and arms that will eventually become a barrel containing his beautifully articulate heart. There is a quickness of response and a depth in his awareness that tells me that my job here is mostly done. I am released from holding myself inside of an archetype that I have been forced to wear, and even though I have loved wearing it, my little brother came to set me free from my own real life fairy tale. To meet the person behind the Mother.

He is like pure sunshine, he could have stayed with me forever if he wanted. But I am not sad that he left, because I am something different now, because I was sending him out to be in his clear, bright future, and thankfully, neither of us are afraid of this dawn.

I guess it was a good visit.