so, i’ve been absent here lately. like so absent. hanging on by a literal shred, and only barely, at that. watching the days dawn and then set, seeing the daily words increase in number as my shame becomes a constant taste in my mouth, a burn in my eyes, a stone in my gut…
(a quick aside: the first phrase that came to mind was hanging on by the skin of my teeth except, ummmm, gross, i don’t have tooth skin, do you? i mean where did that saying even come from?!)(i know. i could google it. but it’s squicking me out.)(okay fuck i googled it. and it’s biblical, from the book of job. sorry god for saying fuck so much, amen.)
this word has come to mean a lot to me because of how much it hurts pocketbrit, because of the shame it carries, because of how deeply it injures her, over and over again. generally, i have a more visceral response to being strong (or not being strong) rather than weak (so you can imagine i was ever-so-delighted to see this word come up in the rota of words i’ve ignored for two weeks) but over time, this word has become meaningful because of my love for my friend. and it makes me so, so sad.
it makes me sad because i know there are some parts that are convinced she is weak, and that her own mother planted, fertilized, and tended to this belief, for years and years (i literally want to spit when i think of that woman, for not seeing her beautiful, smart, sweet, kind daughter. for not protecting her. for looking the other way. i hate her with the hatred of…i don’t even know, just a lot. she hurts my friend so, so much. i don’t even have the words for the level of disregard, and disgust, and anger i have for her.) it makes me sad because i know how fully this conviction is steeped in her cells, how small it makes her feel, how helpless and alone. feeling hurt is weak. asking for help is weak. crying is weak. being vulnerable is weak. sharing blame with others is weak. letting people close is weak. loving and being loved is weak.
and being weak feeds the huge fucking maw of shame, makes it roar so loud the only possibility seems that you will get swallowed up, you will die. i have that shame too, it is fed by different things, but oh god, i know the terror of it, i feel his breath even now on the back of my neck…
and yet…and yet, my lovely pocketbrit has done all of those ‘weak’ things, especially this past year. has fought through and around the shame, has believed me enough to let me in. to let me close. to let me love her, and to love me back. to tell me her hurts, to ask me for help. to stay with me when she wants to run. to tell me when i’ve hurt her heart. to cry with, and for, and to me. to go to therapy, to tell her therapist some of the awful, horrific things she has had happen to her. to be vulnerable.
she has done it all. all the while sure that she is the worst, that she is the most awful, the stupidest. all the while with that goddamn shame in her ear, with the meanest of mean dreams playing as she sleeps, with memories and sensations wracking her body as she wakes up every day and works to funnel the chorus of voices telling her how wrong and horrible and weak she is.
that’s not weak. to me, that’s amazing. she’s amazing. this is the hardest fucking stuff, and she does it, every day.
no kidding she wants to die sometimes, who wouldn’t?! jesus. enough, already. she’s already been hurt so so much. she deserves a break. a really big one, a really peaceful one, where she is actually able to feel, without the impediment of shame, how loved and adored she is, how important she is to the people in her life.
[25 minute break to cry] [sorry, i’m a bit little]
today it feels all the sadder because i hurt her last night, i wasn’t there for her and for her wee one, and it was awful for us both. i know that happens sometimes. i know it will happen again. but i don’t want her to stop doing all the things she thinks are weak with me. i want her to stick around long enough to realize how very strong, and powerful, and amazing she is. i don’t want to fertilize the idea that she is weak, unwanted, unloved.
that couldn’t be further from the truth for me. and i am fighting shame so hard today, trying to grow up bigger and bigger, so i can tell her without crying (not that she minds me crying, but dammit, i just want to do it without tears and without the terror of my little one), how proud i am of her, how much i need her and love her, and how not weak she is. how much she has grown, how much i admire her, how glad i am to walk with her through all of it, even when it hurts. i know she might not believe it but i want to say it just the same.