Serendipity

Was I born a masochist or did society make me this way? I demand unconditional love and complete freedom. That is why I am terrible.

224

So I did something that’s either going to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made or one of the dumbest, not that it really matters because we’re just some talking monkeys on a big rock that will one day explode and everyone will die and no one will know we ever existed. So why does life matter so much when we know how it ends? Why do we read stories about things that have never happened and never will, no matter how many alternate universes we wish there may be? Why do we pretend these rules and inventions really make a difference on the grand scale of things, when will we ever learn how to stop hurting each other?

On a grand scale we massacre our own kind and hunt other species to extinction. Even in what is considered the more civilised parts of the world we still cheat and steal and rob others of possessions and affection. We lie to each other and ourselves on a daily basis, we rape and plunder under more legal pretenses, we collect and horde wealth and we never feel like it’s enough.

Our capacity for greatness is overshadowed by the cruelty we administer upon the lesser fortunate. To those who live in parts of the planet that are savaged by warfare we simply shake our heads and pretend not to notice they drew the short straw. We believe in Gods and we hate them, we pray and we desecrate the holy, we are sinners and we worship saints with no religion.

We judge others for the same mistakes we have made or wish we could make. We take too much for granted, we forget life was never supposed to be easy. No one ever escaped this world without tears, without grief, without heartache. No one is ever doing as well as they are good at pretending. No one is really whole anymore but we don’t talk about the wounds that are still bleeding.

We are afraid when others get too close and we’re too accustomed to denial of the truth being temporary. We all think we’re meant for something greater than a tiny cubicle and paper pushing bureaucracy but none are brave enough to call for revolution. That takes patience that takes courage and most of us are too fond of television and we’d never consider ourselves couch potatoes but the world doesn’t hurt us quite enough to warrant any changing.

We are young but not so young anymore and soon we’ll be not young at all and life will have passed us by before we notice it’s a different generation calling out our mistakes. You will have children and you will sometimes regret it or you will choose to save another from the pain of living and always wonder what it might have been like and whether you’d be less lonely in your old age if a chance at being selfish hadn’t seemed so appealing.

The girl who is locked in a storage container screaming at the top of her lungs for help will be sold until her body rots and her soul is putrid. Her parents’ pleas will be lost on deaf ears or they might be the ones who profit and we shake our heads at the injustice but we don’t break the wheel. When she draws her last breath the world won’t falter, people won’t come to her star with flowers and prayers. Life goes on.

We form cute little non profit organisations and shout about the kindness we bestow upon society by caring and we set up even more for the added benefits of tax evasion. It’s enough to drive a rational person crazy. It’s enough to kill those with too much empathy, and we inevitably end up losing all those who do. The more unkind you can train yourself to be, the larger your chances for survival in this concrete jungle.

The girl who was born in a boy’s body will wonder if God made a mistake and kinder souls will tell him God never makes mistakes and this too, shall pass. There will be few who understand and even fewer who understands. There will always be stares of the wrong kind there will always be words that are unkind but you remind yourself that others did not come this far for you to be hiding.

The boy who made a mistake when he was sixteen will see 20 years of a jail cell and in the last 8 his mother stops visiting. After two he learns how to fight after four he witnesses death and by the time he walks out those doors again he’s a trained cog in the machine that never ends, we would never truly abolish slavery. We ban plants and prescribe narcotics, we discover flying and not long after we learn how to dispense weapons from the sky. Killing is much easier to ignore when the numbers are too large to comprehend and the pictures are censored for your own protection.

You want to be better than this but you’re not. You want to destroy the foundations but you’re part of the status quo. You want to take the right pills and snort the right powder so it’ll all stop hurting, but too much of that will kill you too. I tell you she kissed the poison she looked like an angel and his heart stopped beating for a second, then I watched her shatter. Don’t come any closer to this glass.

 

 

 

223

Teach me how to fall out of love again. Rewind the tapes, swallow the darkness, the lonely nights, the dinners for one and empty bottles of wine stacked up on the kitchen counter. Snuff out the scented candles, watch the roses wilt, take my pills on time but only half of the time. My head is pounding and my hands are shaky again and no phone numbers saved in favourites to call against the deafening quiet.

Delete the photos, the messages, remove the love notes stuck to the fridge by magnets I found on holiday when I was missing you. Forget the pillow talk, the sweet whispers, the smell of your hair, the way you like to run your fingers down my spine, I refuse to hear your heartbeat.

We’ll walk in opposite directions, go back to our own homes. You’ll forget the way coffee should taste and go back to spiking yours with too much sugar. I’ll go back to filling mine with too much cream and we’ll both stay unhealthy in our preferred ways only this time I won’t be there to nag you into calling me crazy.

Let go of my hand, cross the street before looking and hope today is your lucky day. Watch the leaves fall in Autumn, don’t think about our first kiss, our lips never touch, you never feel the tingle of my passionfruit lip balm. Untangle my hair from your sink, wash your sheets until you can’t remember the smell of my shampoo and throw away the over-sized shirts I used to wear to sleep.

Tell her we were no more than sweaty bodies tangled in summer nights, that it was more lust than it was ever love, that you only called me baby because you didn’t care to remember my name. Wipe away the tears I never shed for you, rip up the concert tickets we never bothered to book, throw away the ultimatums we never laid on the table, bury the happy ending that was never written. What never was will never hurt you again.

222

I remember when he never loved me. This was before we had met. He was just another nameless boy who existed at the same time as I did, but our lives never collided. He kissed many girls but he never loved them back. They all loved him. He thought he loved one, or at least he really really wanted to. He wanted to so much that he had her name imprinted onto his ankle, in case he forgot to love her. He never forgot, because he never loved her.

I remember when he always loved me. This was the first time I sneaked into his bed and told him I couldn’t sleep. I could sleep, everyone sleeps eventually. But he knew what I really meant. He put his arm around me and that was the beginning of every bad decision we ever made together. Every secret smile, every sordid kiss, every sinful night that ended with messy sheets and knotted hair, I remember. He remembers too. He hadn’t planned on loving me, but he started waking up in the mornings with a smile on his face. He started saying ‘good morning’ like he meant it. He started to prefer coffee the way I made it. He always loved me and he didn’t know how to stop. Love can be dangerous, he knew this. I never knew this then. Now I always know.

I remember later, when he never loved me. This was when my head had gone bad again and I could no longer see the sun. I started to draw red lines all over my body and I was never pretty, I was always sad. He started kissing other girls again and it was easy because he never loved me. He felt trapped but too trapped to tell anyone or do anything to free himself. I learned it is possible to be tangled together with a person yet still feel lonely. We kissed each other less but when we did, we left bruises. When he finally found the courage to be worse at lying, I slit his throat and buried him under the sea. It was easy, because he never loved me.

221

I wanted to remember all the shades of the ocean, my reflection in the waters, the feel of the wind on my skin, the music that mimicked our heartbeats. I wanted the moment of absolute content to last forever.

I wanted to believe that for once, nothing was missing. But I glanced at her eyes and saw a sadness that broke the peace. I felt an emptiness seep through her that no amount of laughter or substance could appease.

She asked me what else is there to do when you’ve lost your way and the light which used to guide you home shines no longer. She told me she danced to his heartbeat and now her feet no longer touch the ground, every step feels like torture. What do you do when you find yourself alone again and you don’t remember how it happened. When memories begin to play tricks on you and you wonder if you were ever happy. When time begins to chase you and you forget who you’re running from. She whispered through crooked lips that it’s hard to smile when he’s not here to hold me. She said it hurts so bad I’m always on the verge of crying. She looked up and smiled the saddest smile I had ever seen.

What do you do when you lose your soulmate except watch your heart get broken over and over again every single day and you ache to hear his voice but you’re terrified of listening to the words you’ve saved. You wonder whether he’s in a better place but you curse every deity you know for stealing him early. You tell yourself everything happens for a reason but easy comfort isn’t comforting. You blame yourself for not knowing how to move on, and you blame him for not letting you. You feel his ghost following wherever you go, you hope he never leaves.

What can you say when the words I love you feels like a knife to your heart and every “it’ll get better” or “you’ll be okay” feels like a twist in your wound. How do you wave away empathy how do you explain that nothing makes the pain go away and you’d do anything to reverse time just to see his face again. She climbs back under the covers and clutches his old tshirt like a lifeline and I watch her bleed and bleed. I tell her darling, in time, all wounds heal. She whispers yes, but in time, all scars ache.

220

Perhaps the most astonishing fact about my generation is what we take for granted. If you’re reading this, you most likely have access to a computer and the internet. How often do you stop to contemplate and marvel that you own something which at one point in history, the most powerful, most wealthy elite in the entire world could not possess?

You are more privileged than the millions who existed before you, and if we’re being honest, most of them achieved more in their lifetime than you ever will. At one point, the best healthcare in the world couldn’t prevent royalty from dying during childbirth. But there are college students all over America who firmly believe they deserve medicine for free, refusing to reconsider when confronted with the reality that ‘free’ simply means someone else is paying for it. They remain adamant that there should be a ‘right’ to healthcare, and if you can’t afford it, then someone else must be forced to foot the bill, at gunpoint if necessary.

Individual responsibility for one’s own wellbeing is now considered ‘oppressive’ to the poor. I hesitate to call them students because it makes them sound young and naïve, when they’re not and have no right to be. These are fully grown adults. They do not deserve a free pass for their ignorance.

Subway workers now demand to be paid the same as teachers and paramedics, because making a sandwich is considered hard labour in modern America. You ought to laugh at the absurdity, but you can’t because it’s your reality.

These ‘well-educated’ yet wildly misinformed mobs believe that the world should just be perfect and will be perfect if we simply listened and conceded to their demands. They’ve never experienced true hardship or suffered in any meaningful way, so the most hurtful oppression they are able to claim ownership for is micro-aggressions.

Any imagined slight is further evidence to them that the world is unjust, that the world must stop everything, and focus on mending behaviour which may or may not hurt someone’s feelings. They’re so accustomed to being pampered all their lives that the moment someone says ‘no’, their brains begin to short circuit and they revert to infantile tantrums, screaming obscenities at administrators for refusing to acknowledge their precious feelings.

I mean, just how self-absorbed and entitled do you have to be, to know that war and famine exist in this world, to be acutely aware of the fact that people die from starvation and abuse, to be attending the top academic institutions that the world has to provide, to be considered the future leaders of this generation, yet be so divorced from reality that campus Halloween costumes are worthy of debate?

You’re not outraged about innocent children being murdered by drone strikes. Civil liberties being trampled on doesn’t bother you either. The NSA spying on everything and everyone certainly isn’t cause for alarm. But oh, don’t you dare offend the college liberal. Don’t you dare tell a fucking rape joke. Don’t you dare use the wrong pronoun. This is what millennials truly care about, this is worthy of their time and united efforts. We are a disgraced bunch. We’re so isolated, numb, and lost in our own worlds that we’ve lost touch with what’s ultimately important. Peace and love are difficult subjects to talk about. Hate and war have become easy to preach.

Don’t be fooled for a second that these ‘activists’ are the philanthropists volunteering at women’s shelters. Most of them cannot muster the courage to leave their safe spaces, for fear of being confronted by the evils of the patriarchy, manifesting in the form of some middle aged man sitting comfortably on public transport. I imagine first wave feminists clawing exasperatedly in their coffins at what the movement has now become.

These mindless entitled babies are so sure that they deserve everything and more, so sheltered from reality, that they are willing to abandon all freedom of speech, so long as their feelings are protected. My only prayer is that I do not live long enough to see them destroy this Earth.

219

Is it so crazy to admit that we’re not so much craving love from a member of the opposite sex, but a connection to another human being on a very primitive level?

Someone who is capable of understanding you even when you’re unable to find the suitable words, because words can often be so inadequate compared to everything that is inside.

Someone who will in fact love you unconditionally because they know unequivocally that you are worthy. They are aware of your worst sins and transgressions, yet they love you all the same, and are unafraid of revealing their equally twisted selves.

A level of trust that does not allow for doubt because time has stood the test and you know they will stand by your side no matter how much you’ve screwed up. Nothing will ever be unforgivable because you could never allow yourself to let them down in the first place.

It’s crazy to refuse to delegate this position because of something as irrelevant and absurd as gender. It’s more than friendship, or romantic gestures, or mere companionship.

It’s an instinctive mutual understanding, a gut feeling, that this person is yours. Not to be confused with ownership or unreasonable possessiveness, you could never keep them by force or manipulation. The difference is that they choose to stay, every day they choose you all over again.

So if by some miracle of the universe you are lucky enough to meet them in this lifetime, remember that you are the luckiest of them all.

 

218

I’m not talking about the cute sort of depression they try to describe in poetry. The quiet classy dignified soft buzzing in the background, a monotonous bland boring sort of sadness that you can try to amputate with Prozac.

I’m talking like the kind where you’ve walked to the edge of the cliff and every cell in your body screams at you to jump, and when you’re better you forget how close you came to taking the leap, and you never bother telling anyone because you don’t want them to worry or judge you for being so out of control.

I’m not talking about the angsty teen who has barely experienced life but think they have nothing left to learn from this world because they listened to too much punk music, and their parents refuse to listen and even when they do they just don’t understand.

I’m talking about the kid that opened up the safe and brought the gun to his head and came so close to pulling the trigger he still sees bullets in his dreams. The kind where you start drawing red lines along your arteries until you run out of space and your skin forgets to heal and the scars begin to grow layers.

I’m talking like the all consuming, self indulgent, utterly unreasonable urge to say goodbye forever by not saying it to anybody. I’m talking being unable to write any notes because you don’t really know what to say anymore, and you lost all your words as the red seeped through cotton.

You don’t know how to explain it because when you’re better it seems so far out of reach and the last thing you want to do is grab it. But when you’re in it you can’t see any light. Your whole universe is blurry and you forget all the reasons for existing. When you’re in it it’s no longer a whim or a feeling but a deeply ingrained uncompromising truth that this is all a cruel jape and the joke is on you and you alone, and the only way out is out.

217

Perhaps I am still waiting for an apology. Maybe some unreasonable, idealistic side of me still yearns for closure, maybe we never really ‘get over it’, no matter what we tell ourselves. Maybe you’ll always feel that familiar ache in the pit of your stomach when our song comes on, no matter how much you want to forget me. Maybe every time I think I’ve really forgotten the sound of your voice, your laugh, your lecturing monotone when you’re reading me poetry, it all comes flooding back at the most inconvenient of times, and I’m forced to retrace your footsteps back to our beginnings. Do you remember it too?

I used to blame you for being older but none the wiser. But age turns out to be a tricky thing. As children we’re told to expect steady improvement, but as an adult you very quickly discover that growth no longer comes naturally. It’s actually disturbingly effortless to remain stagnant, and society will cater to all your childish wants as long as you cry loudly enough.

The older we get the more we’re forced to accept the flaws of our predecessors, as we uncover more unsavory truths about ourselves. How imperfect, how selfish, how cruel we can be. How our own illogical stubbornness drives us to fight relentlessly until there’s nothing left to win, but still we refuse to move on. You realise your parents had no clue what they were doing, just like you have no clue now, and you start to envy them for how far they’ve come, you start to fear how much progress you still have left. You’ll search everywhere for some kind of manual only to find that you’re alone in this, and everyone else is just as terrified. Some are better than you at pretending, and you resent them for this.

So you hunt for a connection, some spark, any sign that there’s some grander purpose to your existence other than the day to day tortures of small talk and paper shuffling, and the thousand other mundane tasks that make up your seemingly meaningless life, and you pray to whatever might listen just so you can stretch out some thin hope in order to not fall apart every morning. But that emptiness inside of you that you choose to sedate with religion or drugs or whatever else works, it never goes away. And God, it’s getting harder and harder to keep living.

On coming home 17 years later

My friend wrote this lovely poem~ Original post here.

When I was five my parents moved us to New Zealand.

I learned how to say Aotearoa before I knew how to write my own name in Chinese.

I knew how to spell New Zealand before I ever knew how to write the two characters that read ‘Taiwan’.

Yet I was always reminded of one thing:

Even if you grew up there, your skin is still yellow; they’ll never see you as one of them.

Don’t forget where you came from.

I know this because I’ve spent my life listening to people

yell go back to your country

from car windows when I walk down the street

and I want to yell back “this is my country, I know no other”.

I will always be immigrant in their eyes.

Politicians spit Chinese, spit foreign like we have not brought wealth;

like we have not paid dearly in both currency and dignity to make this place home.

I have heard the words bloody asians more than enough times,

so don’t worry, I’ll never forget where I came from.

Taiwan, I say, when people ask.

I’m from Taiwan.

But I wish they didn’t feel the need to ask.

Two years ago I moved to Taiwan.

(Or should I say back to Taiwan?)

My mother says when she looks at the sky here she sees her youth floating past,

and she knows the streets we walk down by heart.

She hears home in each step she takes.

She did not want to leave 17 years ago.

It was here, too, that I drew my first breath, spoke my first word, took my first step, learned the word home.

But I was torn from my soil as a sapling, and now my roots have all dried –

slice them open with a pocketknife and nothing spills out.

But if  you cut open my veins I will bleed pohutukawa flowers.

I will bleed the salt waters of the south pacific ocean, childhoods at the beach fighting with seagulls,

and an expanse of long white clouds.

I will bleed quiet night skies filled with stars, the damp smell of bush walks in the Waitakere Ranges,

and the taste of cold L&P.

People here tell me how lucky I am to know how to speak English but

How do I tell them I wish I could exchange my tongue for one that matches my skin?

How do I tell them that when I try to speak Chinese, I often opt for silence because I struggle too hard to find the words;

I guess I just misplaced them when we crossed an ocean all those years ago.

How do I tell them that when I try to write Chinese, my pen is like a lost explorer, depressed and drunk;

each stroke is a maze that he cannot fathom so he sits down to cry.

How do I tell them I wish I could write the intricate characters telling stories in the language that should be carved into the walls of my brain?

My grandfather told me that each Chinese character evolved from a picture and each picture tells a story.

If a picture is really worth a thousand words, and there are over 50,000 Chinese characters,

there are 50 million stories to be told.

50 million stories I do not know.

I have only 26 letters to rearrange, but they work with me,

use my tongue as diving boards,

fall from my lips like fearless skydivers,

deliver my thoughts like practised messengers.

Nowadays I avoid mentioning that I don’t belong

but when people ask me what city I’m from I don’t know what to say.

I was born in Taipei

but Auckland nurtured me with its gentle fingers.

Auckland taught me peace,

taught me how blue the sky can be

taught me, how it feels to take off your shoes and run barefoot in the grass.
Do I say Auckland or Taipei?

I’m not going to point out that I’m out of place

but I can’t claim this city as home and

I don’t know how to talk my way out of this one and oh no my words are tripping over my teeth on their way out again.

I wish I could say what I’m trying to say in English –

no i’m not saying I’m better because I speak another language –
I’m sorry.
I wish I was one of you.

And when I say I miss home I’m not saying I don’t love my birthplace,

it’s just that the definition of home has always been fluid and

my search for belonging has made me an albatross,

gliding along the shoreline on switching currents,

my feet never touching land.

And even though I finally look like I’m home now –

a dark haired, yellow skinned puzzle piece that’s turned up as last,

my edges don’t quite fit as well as I’d hoped.

So I tell my parents I don’t think this is home and this city is a stranger to me,

and that it makes me want to run because they’ve always warned me against the unknown.

I tell them that before I left Auckland,

I ground my heart into sand and let the wind carry it away

so New Zealand would always have a piece of me

and now when my friends walk along the beach there,

I feel each footprint in my chest.

I tell them the sky in this city is thick with a collective memory that I cannot access,

and when I reach out to those around me I only grab empty air –

but my father insists that I’m home now and so I say

I’m home now.

How to be a woman in Modern Society

Be sexy, but don’t be slutty.

Be assertive, but don’t be bitchy.

Be pretty, but don’t wear too much make up.

Be skinny, but don’t lose your curves.

Be smart, but don’t be a know it all.

Be affectionate, but don’t be clingy.

Be a home maker, but don’t neglect your career.

Be fun, but don’t party too much.

Be available, but don’t be easy.

Be genuine, but don’t try too hard.

Be a good mother, but don’t let your children dictate your life.

Be original, but don’t stand out from the crowd.

Be edgy, but don’t have too many tattoos.

Be faithful, but tolerate his infidelities.

Be perfect, in an imperfect world.

216

If you find the world is harsh then you must be stronger. And though you may falter, you may feel the flow of hatred running through your veins, you must never lose your humanity.

Though life will change you, scar you, you must never allow it to break you, nor tarnish your soul. If there is good remaining after all this time then you must protect it.

We may be small and insignificant in this vast and terrifying universe, but we have each other. So even if every bone in your body is screaming enough, don’t ever stop being kind, you won’t regret this.

And if your existence makes the world a little less cruel then yours will have been a life well lived. And God I hope to die in those arms, my last shelter, my sweetest memory. If life must end in tragedy then let mine be a beautiful one. All I ever wanted was a little less loneliness, a little more love.

x

215

I don’t know if it’s our ego getting in the way of us admitting that we don’t really know as much as we pretend to, or if we are just programmed to ignore the fact that there are no real answers in life. There is no rule book, because we’re all living for the first time.

Which makes it so bizarre that we rely on tradition to guide us when we know that everyone before us simply followed the people before them, and the same people who decided to make marriage a legal institution also thought slavery was a great idea. There are still places in this world where child brides and female genital mutilation is the norm. That’s the power of tradition. It’s so hard to put an end to what is ‘normal’.

But if we wiped the slate clean, if we didn’t look to our parents or our grandparents or their predecessors for guidance. If we didn’t view marriage and monogamy as the norm, but merely as options, and there was no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to be with someone, what would you want? What would make you happy?

My views on so many things in life have changed so drastically over the past few years. I used to think being pro choice was a no-brainer. Of course women should have a right to decide what to do with their own bodies! No uterus, no opinion!

But what happens when there is a body inside your body? What happens when your decision means someone else doesn’t even get to exist? We love to boast of our intelligence, and looking around at the world we’ve created, you cannot deny the genius of humanity. But what does it mean to be human? Given how little we know about consciousness, and how much we know about human development, it is very hard to argue that life doesn’t begin at conception.

Once you begin to understand that those ‘clumps of cells’ the size of a kidney bean is the perfect possibility of a human being, it is very hard to argue that abortion is not the destruction of life. I understand there are children born into poverty, born into war zones, born into families that never wanted them, and we start to believe that abortion is the better option. But when did death become better than suffering, and who are we to decide that only a comfortable life is worth living? Life is not meant to be perfect, life is meant to be lived. What a pity that humanity loves to kill, but will not plead guilty to murder. Yes, they are only cells. But wait, what are you made of again?

214

I used to wonder whether dementia was the brain’s primitive way of saying ‘Hey, I’m tired of remembering’.

Because we’re not supposed to live this long and suffer so much pain, and it’s merely nature’s last defense mechanism against the cruelty of reality. Those who are affected are never the ones who suffer. It is friends and family who must live with the fact that their lives will never be the same again. They have lost someone who is still with them, and must watch their loved ones’ mind succumb to nothingness while the body remains.

I can tell you what it feels like to see someone who has watched you grow up all your life forget your name and existence entirely. It feels like relief, to see her stare into my eyes and not glimpse a shred of recognition. Like her slate had been wiped clean, like life had forgiven her, all her mistakes, all her worries, they were with the wind. Because sometimes when the world won’t grant you peace, the mind retreats. No matter how broken or battered, what lives once may never die, and we always find our own serenity.

213

‘Do you not like me sober’?

She wanted to ask but the words were glued to the back of her throat and she couldn’t cough it out. So she lit another cigarette instead and watched the smoke swirl around them, filling the air with toxic fumes.

It takes precision to kill yourself slowly. It takes discipline to commit to socially acceptable suicide. It’s like a traditional sort of depression, the mild kind that people can ignore without feeling guilty. Common and predictable, easily manipulated with medication, and doesn’t end with a noose or a gun shot. No one will ever discover her corpse and say it was a tragedy. They will have seen it coming. They will say she deserved it.

When her body is laid out in the coffin and her legs don’t quite fill it out, they will say that it’s a shame she didn’t try harder to stick around. When the scars on her skin become conspicuous under the fluorescent light they will mutter that she was weak, that she succumbed to the worst type of regression. Self harm is selfish. Self mutilation, a childish renegade form of indulgence. Her inability to cope with reality, her distorted view of the world, her disillusion, her mistakes, her failure to be.

No one will discuss the drunk boy that raped her when she was 19 and too scared to say no. No one will mention the boy who told her he loved her only to cheat with her best friend. No one will understand why it was easier to hurt herself than to hurt them back. No one will question the absence of her family, their anger, their disappointment in her unnecessary existence. Their bitterness will be justified. No one will make excuses for her.

But her smile. They will remember her smile. The way her eyes would light up, the faint lines around her mouth, her charming grin, her girlish giggle. They will remember the way she could brighten the room with her laughter, the sound of pure joy. It’s hard to imagine how someone clearly filled with such happiness could possibly contain such grief. Maybe that was the problem. Every experience was so exaggerated, every emotion so raw, so incompatible. The pain had nowhere to go, so it consumed her.

He will remember the way she used to look at him, like he was her whole world, and he was. She didn’t know how to love only a little. All the ways she understood him that no one else ever could, all the words they never said, but felt. It was true, he didn’t like her sober. He loved.

212

I heal faster but I feel less, I’ve learned how to steady my heartbeat. I don’t love as hard and my kisses don’t draw blood anymore. I know how to hurt people now, so I stay away. I know how to make them pay, so I don’t. My lips are kissed by fire but all you taste is the cold.

It’s not relapse and it’s not recovery. It’s nothing so simple but it’s not terribly complicated either. I just don’t recognise myself anymore, nor do I remember who I used to be. No one ever warned me when life alters you forever you don’t receive a memo, you never realise how important those moments are until they’re long gone. I see a stranger in the mirror.

I’m afraid I will never love anyone as much as I loved you, and the injustice of it hurts almost as much as your honesty. But we are not star struck lovers, we are not promises made under starry hot summer nights, we are not warm whispers in the dark and sweet memories. We are bruised egos and crooked hearts, we were stubborn even as we fell apart.

But you, my darling, you think this pain is unique. You think no one else has ever felt like this, felt so deeply, but we all did. You think no one has ever loved as hard as you, but we all did. You think no one could hurt this much and survive, but we all did. You think you’re alone in this world, but we’re all with you. You think this pain will haunt you forever, and you’ll never be able to erase his mistakes. But one day you’ll wake up, it might be three days from now, it might be three months, or three years. One day you’ll wake up, and he will have lost the power to wound.

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