Ghosting

I haven’t heard from you in days.

The last time we really talked,

There was excitement,

Future,

Lust,

Intention.

We were mutually interested,

and I had started to fall for the person

you are,

The person I think,

I thought,

you are…

You were?

It’s been 4

Almost 5

Days.

I obsessively reviewed

Every moment.

Every text.

Every email.

Every WhatsApp,

Every… Everything.

And you want me.

On paper,

You are at least planning

To Fuck. the. Hell. Out. Of. Me.

And I want it all.

I’m not even sure

If you’re my boyfriend,

But I want your body

intertwined with mine.

Daily. Weekly. For now.

But I’m hurt.

I haven’t heard from you.

Not even if you’re busy.

Not even if you’re uninterested.

Not even if something happened.

You told me you were into me.

You told me not to worry.

About you.

About us.

But you don’t try.

I hate that you don’t try.

I don’t think it’s too much to ask.

Do you?

That’s obviously rhetorical,

As I haven’t heard from you.

And that hurts most.

Send an emoji.

Tell me you’re busy.

Tell me you’re not that into me.

Let me hate you

Let me feel disgust

Let me hurt,

With intention.

You told me things

That I began to believe.

I gave you my body,

To ogle,

To release to,

To enjoy.

But we haven’t fucked.

Not yet.

I would have given it all to you.

I would have been your private dancer.

I would have been your “cool girl”.

As much as I despise your ghosting,

I miss you, too.

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Knowing

It’s in the quiet moments

When I know you’re the one.

We may not reunite,

At least in this life,

But there’s no question in my mind

That we’re destined.

It’s the response

From one of my molecules

To one of yours

That’s unexplainable.

What I think is what you say,

Where you kiss is what I need,

Right place,

Right time.

So secure in this knowing

That we can walk away,

Even for a lifetime.

I look at you with only pride.

Go do it! Go forward!

Leave me to grow!

Leaving, knowing

There’s no one else

Who knows,

Who sees,

Who feels,

Who can be.

Twin soul,

For now,

you’re free.

But, after long,

You’ll be

With me.

Morning, Mourning

February is tough. When everyone is celebrating love and infatuation, love is not what’s in my mind.

March is rough. When people are dancing around, claiming bonuses, when Spring springs, I feel the withering inside.

January, February, March. Q1 of every year, I’m reminded why I work in death. Why death hits home. His birthday was January, but he died in March. Her birthday was February, but she died in September. Her birthday was October but she died in March. His birthday was February and he died in February. Birth, death, love. Tragic loss. Zig-zagging through my first quarter of the year, breaking my heart open again.

But morning seems to always come.

Mourning seems to start the morning after… When the haze burns off and you’re left with truth.

I’m still mourning.

This week, this week this year, has been incredibly difficult. The son of my dear friend, who took her life 7 years ago now, turned 10 last month. He’s beautiful and smart and gentle and kind. And she’s missing out. I’m staying in the home of friends equidistant between where she jumped off a bridge and where her son sleeps. I’m drinking in that bridge, and that boy. He’s stronger than I. More compassionate.

Tomorrow is the 6th anniversary of the death of my best friend K-Rock, who overdosed in a Bronx apartment. The last time I got to feel his arms around me, where we had our last long talk in person, was a mile from where I’m sleeping this week. I am literally at the center of my pain.

Two nights ago, I spent the evening with the man who nursed me through that pain, who drank some of this heartbreak for me. And who still loves my broken heart. We were out catching up after years with no contact, celebrating the anniversary of a project we’d completed long ago.

A project that is the perfect metaphor for our amazing love affair: “Madness: A fast-paced game with no turns.” Its market differentiation was that it had stops built into the game.

Bittersweet. Celebrating the end of the Madness.

But really, we were getting closure. A different kind of death–the end of a love we’d shared, the end of the hope I had for reconciliation, the death of the memory. Painful, but necessary, in this season of tragedy. And I got to do what I wish I could have done with those I lost to abrupt death: the four things that matter most: “i love you”, “Please forgive me”, “i forgive you”, “thank you”. Just as he always knows to do, he gave me everything I needed. intuitively.

In July of 2013, he gave me something even more special. He took the time and energy to help me find just the right succulent to plant at the grave of my K-Rock. He took a shaking, crying girl through a graveyard for over an hour, searching for her best friend. When I was ready to give up without finding him, the man by my side forced me to keep going. He calmed my nerves, eased my pain, and told me it was worth it. It was 120 degrees outside, the sun beating down, and he was miserable, but he gave me what I needed. Intuitively. And we sat there, shoes off, talking to K-Rock until I could say everything I needed to say. Until I could introduce them properly. Until I could seek closure and find it. That day could quite possibly be my definition of bliss. I felt complete, unconditional love amidst the chaos. I learned what it means to hold space. And to be held.

Above anything, without fail, he was my friend. He was my shoulder while mourning all my other friends.

And yet. Last night, I walked out with closure. It is the morning after mourning. And I’m grateful for the shoulder, but I need it no longer. In the end, that death of the relationship, the hope of one, rather, was necessary for the dawn to break. And break it has.

What trauma therapy has taught me is that sometimes, we must re-enter a place in the past to feel all the feelings the place must teach us. So I am here, in the center of my pain, watching the sunrise come up after mourning. The loss never seems to lessen, but I can tell the pain will subside.

Good, bad, happy, sad, with or without shoes. Feel it all.

Preferably with a friend.

Missed Connections

I believe a teenage girl lives inside all of us. Someone waiting to be chosen. Longing for recognition. Longing to be loved and cherished and admired. And seen. Anxiously waiting for this to happen and waiting, on baited breath, for validation. Even if we don’t want to admit it, a teenage girl is there, at the core.

I’m young. I’m fortunate enough to say that I have achieved professional recognition. I’m a leader in my field, a master of my craft. I love my career, and I’ve received a wealth of recognition just from following my dreams.

Then there’s the place where the rational and the teenage brains meet: love. I’ve been rejected a fair amount by people in my life: men, women, friends, lovers, family, mentors, foes. I’ve been abused and damaged. I still hurt. Mostly, I hurt by those I believed from whom I should have received unconditional love, as well as by those whom I’ve loved unconditionally but lost tragically. Both forms of rejection continue to be unexpected, long after the blow was dealt.

Recently, I’ve been seeing someone romantically. It’s been some time since I’ve dated, since I’ve softened my heart enough to get shy around someone. It’s a difficult exercise for me, but with this person, I want to keep doing it. Every time I ask for what I want, I am rewarded by being pulled in, by his turning toward me. At this point, when he turns toward, I want to leap into his arms. I’m beyond smitten and am falling. Deeply. And I don’t want to stop. Some days I think I should, when my doubts and self-criticism creeps in, but most of the time, stopping this inertia is farthest from my mind.

We met in an odd way; on an online app where you match with one another within certain proximity. Yes, I’m talking about your run of the mill dating app where you swipe in a hot or not scenario, but both of us have no purchased features, so we need to be within proximity, age range, and also like one another’s faces and profiles. I’ve never matched with anyone on this app, and I’ve been fine with that. I was not seeking a partner.

This seems like a mundane way to meet these days, so why are the circumstances odd? My proximity setting was within a 1-mile radius and the only time he was in that radius was for the hour or two he was at a meal with friends. Otherwise, he lives 300+ miles away from me. And yet, we connected. The chemistry was immediate and electric, in every way imaginable. So much so that he attempted to reject me early on, only to reconsider. Things, feelings, were moving too quickly for the circumstances.

And yet, this has progressed. We’re in constant contact, at least daily (if not multiple times daily), despite not getting a lot of face time with one another. Our friendship and connection has deepened just through texting, calls, and FaceTime, and we make time to connect. I have noticed, at times, that he doesn’t share everything with me yet, nor do I, and while that bothers me a tad, I understand it. The anxiety isn’t there like it has been in the past with other potential partners. Perhaps it’s because I have matured and perhaps it’s because I notice the effort–to be honest, it’s probably both things, but I can’t be sure.

This gets me to thinking about connections. Those I’ve had in the past, those with whom I’ve had a stronger bonds and still have fizzled. What makes these things different?

I used to believe that the connection was everything. In 2010, I met, what I have called, the “great love of my life”. We met, quite serendipitously, in an airplane. It was the perfect “meet cute”, the perfect beginning to a romantic comedy. I wasn’t supposed to be on that plane and actually had switched seats only to stumble upon the person I spent years with sitting next to me. We both believed we were going to spend our lives together. Until, one day, years into the relationship and after much talk of marriage, he realized he wasn’t able to stay committed. I, loving and respecting him, understood, and let him go. My heart was broken into pieces, pieces I believed to be irreparable. This was my great love after all!

In the nearly four years without him, in the relationships I have had with others since him, and, most importantly, in the relationship I’ve had with myself since our parting, I have learned the best lesson:

Relationships are only part connection. They are built and sustained on action. Not only is there a space component to them, there’s a time component as well. If both parties aren’t ready, aren’t in the same time in their lives, no connection, no matter how strong, will keep them together.

No connection is ever really missed, just out of place.

Guessing

When I saw you

I knew

no one would compare

I thought

Love at first sight was a hoax

Now I know it’s no joke.

When I felt you

I knew

All the trauma, the mistrust

Prepared me

To feel these arms

To recognize safety

To know you’d do no harm.

When I tasted you

I knew

What passion could

Would

Should be.

My body lit up like a Christmas tree.

You reveal me like an onion

You protect me like a knight

You scare me like a beast

You are my love at first sight.

I want to hold you in my arms

get tangled up in your sheets

Go on wild foreign adventures

coordinate, align, live your heartbeats.

You make me wonder like a child

Giggle like teenager

feel like a woman

the most authentic versions of myself.

Light me up,

Set me on fire,

Fan the flames

Grow the desire.

My body, the battlefield

In 2005, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. While the treatment was difficult and the time was trying for both me and my then-husband (and our families & friends), the scars and the side effects were all internal. To the naked eye, one would have thought I was fine–that I never had cancer. That I had it all together. To the naked eye, most would have thought my marriage was fine and that we had just weathered a storm. Perhaps a hurricane. While I had lost my ability to bear children and I suffered from an immense amount of scar tissue buildup inside my most precious female organs, I simply looked like a woman who had gained a bit of weight. While I suffered from crippling depression and anxiety, most people thought it was just a side effect from my troubling past, from previously existing traumas.

I carried around the semblance of normalcy until 2015, when I was again diagnosed with cervical cancer. This time, though, I was not as lucky as before. I needed more treatment, invasive and exhausting treatment, that caused visible symptoms. I lost 40 pounds. I lost my hair, everywhere. I gained a skin condition that permanently discolored my body. I lost a labia, and then a surgeon crafted a new one. Medication provided after treatment ended bloated me, giving me a “muffin top”. Vaginal reconstruction weakened my core. My teeth eroded from chemotherapy. My groin dotted with tattoos I needed for radiation.

My body, and my relationship with it, has changed in so many ways. Some days, I look in the mirror and remember that woman I once was, seeing her in my eyes or in my crooked smile. Others, I try to think that this moment, where my body feels and looks weathered, is when I am bursting from my cocoon. Messy but necessary to get to my final destination–a butterfly. But most of the time, I sit with angst, in despair about what others think when they see me. About what I think when I see me. To what expectations people compare the reality in front of them. Many days, I just see the cancer, even after it’s moved on to ravage someone else. My body, the battlefield.

I have a sordid history with my vagina. Much of my past trauma comes from unwanted sexual advances, assaults, and the aftermath those experiences caused. I have been trying to determine what a healthy relationship would look like with that part of my body for as long as I can remember–I never did have a healthy sexual experience before having unhealthy ones. I have sought the assistance of counselors, trauma therapists, sex therapists, and body workers to help connect me with The Sacred Feminine. I work to connect to Her on a regular basis.

But things just aren’t that easy.

In some ways, I find my post-cancer approach to my body to be more respectful than it once was. In college and after my divorce, I often gave my body freely to anyone willing to give theirs to me, without giving a second thought to who should have rite to entry. I did so soberly and consensually. Even after several sexual assaults in adulthood, I attempted to “stay normal” by continuing this practice, like nothing had happened. Like it didn’t matter that I had been violated. If I just kept up appearances, then maybe, just maybe, those violations would matter less. Now, after undergoing vaginal and labial reconstruction, I am more careful about whom I grant entry. It’s not that I don’t condone these practices–they’re great!–but I was never doing them for the right reasons. I was never a free spirit. I wanted control over the past–and I never gained it. Now, I am discerning. I respect this body that weathered the storms life threw its way. I expect that people touching or enjoying it also respect it. Because it IS The Sacred Feminine. And it is mine. I have a lot less sex (with others), but the quality is much higher. And, most of the time, I don’t shrink with shame afterwards.

Some days, especially when the body shame and self-doubt creeps in, when I’m meeting someone new from whom I’d like physical adoration, I gaze longingly over my shoulder. I compare myself to the “cool girls” and free spirits, and I wonder why I have become the prude. But it only takes a moment for me to run my fingers along the scars lining my edges to remember that, in place of someone trendy, stands a warrior for truth. Stands a woman reclaiming her leg hair and body hair. Learning to receive pleasure from herself, to give clear boundaries to others. Stands the captain of her destiny and a dreamer of dreams.

A survivor stands where a girl once did.