Where have you been?


I am the type of person who hates explaining herself. I would much rather hide under the covers, look away, recede.

It was a muted summer, with a room with a view. It was getting drunk with friends for the very first time. It was relocating and standing up for myself. It was my head in his hands, listening to him tell me to be safe. Too bad I’m not so good at that.

People like my brother are troublemakers. People like me are trouble-seekers. Once I moved away from family for the final time I locked myself in crisis mode and now I can’t seem to get out. I pick fights and I push buttons. I kick up dirt and slam my palms against chain-link fences. When all you’ve ever known is the transience of stability, it’s hard to get comfortable.

It was a wringing of the hands and rapid thoughts, heart beating so fast at the danger I couldn’t see. I spent days on end blankly refreshing the browser again and again hoping I’d find connection. I sat very, very still in a city of commuters. Every morning I woke up to the sound of children playing and praying next door. Every night I begged for sleep so I wouldn’t be tempted to literally tear my skin off. I walked barefoot around the block asking the homeless where the hell I could buy some chocolate milk at 1am, glints from stray cats’ eyes and dusty neon signs lighting my way around the city. Keys failed. Pills failed. Dismissive comments from my therapist failed. Sex, anger, and intoxication were the only things that made me feel alive.

When I started to try to separate myself from the things that were making me feel detached and unreal, I started to become completely unhinged. I started to feel everything that I had numbed before. There was jealousy and loneliness and so much anger.

However, there was also effusive love and friendship and intimacy and everything else I had almost forgotten. There were soft amber lights and laughter. There were arms wrapped each other’s shoulders as we stumbled down the streets in a joyous haze. For the first time in months, everything I wanted to say started to pour out and, instead of repelling others, it drew my most treasured friends closer. I became an open wound: stinging, putrid, raw, exposed.

I am a walking healing scar. I have never felt ready, and I don’t know if I ever will. I can’t emphasize how scared I’ve been of change and of my ability to function. For a brief moment each day I come back to the apartment, however, I smell cooling pastries on the table and sunlight peeking through the blinds. I go into the room and smell skin on blankets and turn on the comforting fairy light draped over our bed and I remember that this home’s been worth it, he’s worth it, and I’m certainly worth everything that’s happened.


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