21 June 2021

0 where we at

 i went back to the dentist today, for a filling. my therapist wanted me to make a point of asking for at least one break. in the spirit of developing new patterns wherein i do not power through pain and discomfort. 

after, nanette asked if i'd asked for a break and i told her i wasn't entirely sure. i think, rather, that it was offered and i took it and i told her that i had been told to take a break. so, that i was supposed to take a break was communicated. does that count? is that enough? can i check this off the list? 

i told two people i'd been sexually assaulted and might need to take breaks. i told the dentist things might be easier with a stress ball. her assistant gave me two and asked which i preferred. the stress ball helped. 

the filling was mercifully quick. the dentist was mercifully good at her job, and good at communicating what she was about to do. there were no surprises. 

i remember, she told me when i told her. 

that's your mouth protecting you, the assistant who cleaned my teeth prior told me when i told her the x-rays the last time had been a horrible ordeal. i wanted to weep when she said this. 

you did so well, she told me when it was over. i wanted to weep when she said that too. 

on the way back from memphis, i overnighted in roanoke. the hotel i though i'd carefully chosen because the room access was internal rather than via a balcony looked like a murder den. as in, i was afraid to leave my stuff in the car. it looked that dirty and unsafe. 

it took a series of escalating horrors for me to accept that i'd have to blow the 60 bucks and stay elsewhere, but i did it. i hauled my wreck of a self, gasping i am safe, i am safe, i am safe, to a hotel one exit up, where i took one of the hottest showers of my life and burned off all my skin. 

my therapist always wants me to say how it feels to be in my body and i never know. it's not that i don't have words but that i do not know. but i'm getting better, i think, because i've started paying attention. 

at the dentist, when i let the stress ball go, my fingers shook violently with the adrenaline. 

at the hotel, the anxiety sat on my chest, like when fezzik used to settle his 15 pounds on my chest and fall asleep so i'd awake with a start, convinced i was in cardiac distress. 

this will not last forever. i think i do believe that. i certainly get on my soap box and tell other people that. but it's alarming how often shit happens and i feel it. 

yesterday, i went to get a massage. i always see zana. i only see zana. only zana is allowed to touch me. 

when a man i've never seen before came to collect me for some 90 minute thing i'd not booked, i was like I BELONG TO ZANA!!! after the confusion (there was another caroline) was cleared, i sat back in the waiting room, breathing deeply, trying to know the feelings, trying to calm myself, alarmed by how activating the prospect of someone other than zana touching me had been. 

these are discrete moments. localized. i'm not like this always. 

E came over for pie and early supper and hanging out last friday. her boyfriend joined us and sat between us on the couch. it was fine. everything was fine. she realized before i did that a man was coming to my home, and, realizing that, she checked in. and everything was fine. 

the trouble is not knowing where it begins and ends, so it can happen whenever. i guess the good thing is that i have people around me who can carve out space to settle into. 

the relief that came from being in memphis was of not having to care for myself to the degree that i have over the last year and a half but 2021 most especially. 

in the first half of the year, solidly five things occurred for which, in non-pandemic times, my mother would have been on my doorstep as fast as she could. but she couldn't. and so i made it on my own. and saying that now feels incredibly self-indulgent. maybe i'm being melodramatic. the temptation is, as always, to police one's self, to distrust one's self, to detached from what happened and how bad it was and i refuse to do that. 

shit happened. the six months after were hell on earth. and we (because i'mma throw claude in there for good measure) are getting through. 

10 June 2021


briefly, but she seems to have had an idea of who i was. if not entirely, at the least, she knew she liked me. 

her bed was full of crumbs. i was wearing shorts. they stuck to my knees. 

when we left, it was like i'd kneeled on the uncleaned floor of a bakery. 

an hour later, the crumb prints were still indentions in my skin. 

we thought we woke her up-- debo and i-- because it took her a few minutes of blinking at us, like someone moving into sudden light. but then, after the manic display of good humor and chatter (a mode i only ever put into effect in assisted living facilities), she flashed me a conspiratorial look such that i could internally sigh: YES. i am in. 

burvil is ok. burvil is looked after and cared for. burvil is safe. 

but god, ya'll, is it ever sad that we are sometimes blessed with lives longer than our minds or bodies can bear.

04 June 2021

0 where to begin

i think straight men have forgotten how to ask questions. this is my conclusion from the dating apps. 

i no longer fear sounding shrill. what i fear is sounding bitter. 

zana (the massage therapist) said i should try hinge. that was my homework. so i did it. like that was going to have some effect on the pain in my arm. but the straight men, they do not ask questions. they have forgotten how to have a conversation. or maybe they never knew. 

it's bizarre, being erased in your own conversation. 

i refuse. i am not here for that. 

i have something to say here but i don't know what it is. 

keep writing, i tell my students. fill up all the space. even when you don't know where you're going, keep writing. 

i want them to feel comfortable with their words. 

i am writing again. 

i count it as a victory that i have been writing through the last few months. i am attaching words to where i am, which seems crucial given the necessity of words by which to locate one's self. 

i do not want to write about the rapes. 

i do not want to be someone who only writes about rapes. 

i don't have therapy this week. 

every time i take a week off, i wind up in some state of crisis and i have to call her. 

nina. her name is nina. my therapist is nina. 

the massage therapist is zana. 

my rapist was nate. so i can't swipe right on any of them. or the clarks. 

he wrote me around my birthday in 2019. clark. the guy in college. 

that is a part of this, i know. i am bracing. i've not heard from him since then, but the threat persists. he could surface.

this must be so boring to read! some bitter woman banging on about all this. 

but i'm struck by the differences. 

i've signed up for a lecture on writing about sexual assault. it's being led by someone who was raped by a stranger while walking in a park. 

i envy that. i fucking hate myself for envying that, but i do. 

a stranger might be easier. or at least different. and more random. 

these other people, these people who know you, who you're involved with and attracted to and dating. it's so fucking messed up. 

it is so fucking messed up. 

not just that this happens but that it happens so casually. that it is so easily confused for dating. 

i remember the first time, on his nephew's bunk bed. i've written about that already. 

i remember the time in his mother's shower. i think he may have said "i've got you." because i was afraid of slipping and falling and getting caught. because i was trying to stop it. 

i remember the time on the stairs at my parents' house. i do not remember him. what i remember is listening, straining to listen because my hearing is bad and i wanted to be sure to hear the popping of garebear's toes. 

always, his toes are a giveaway. always, they pop. ever since i was a little girl, when he'd try to sneak up on me, i'd catch him because of his popping toes. 

but garebear didn't come. his mother didn't come. no one ever came. 

k.clen sent me pre-birthday balloons today. and it mattered more than i can tell you. more than i can even tell her. 

i am, currently, i feel, existing in a state of deliberate messiness. 

i am seeking refuge in a state of deliberate messiness. 

k.clen sent me pre-birthday balloons and i took photographs of thanks...

a process which yielded the most accurate representation of how i feel i am right now: 

this was written several weeks ago, i don't quite remember when. it did get better. 

i'm in memphis. on the way, i saw lindear. i'd arrived exhausted, battered by an abusive phone conversation along the way, drained by the ten-hour drive, wearing no make-up and dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt. lindear greeted me in a fashion forward jumpsuit and visible bra. while i talked to her daughter, she went and changed, so our fashions would be a better match. 

i'd made a joke beforehand that even if we just met in a mall parking lot, i'd be fine with that. and that was exactly what we did-- sitting in a closed up car together for two hours in the parking lot of the mall of our youths, sharing back and forth our stories of life lately. then spending a solid half hour figuring out our order of cracker barrel take-away to be eaten on her back porch. 

when we said goodnight, i saw her child-- who we joke is my daughter because our aesthetics are uncannily similar-- had taken care to tuck the stuffed bear i sleep with into bed. 

it's such a gift, to feel truly, generously physically and emotionally cared for by those you love. i recognize that for the luxury it is. and i recognize, though it probably doesn't come out here because this is where i process, how extravagantly blessed i have been, particularly in the women who love and care for me. 

when i drove up, my parents were sitting in lawn chairs in the garage, awaiting my arrival like people camped out for a royal wedding. seriously. there is no better way to be greeted after a year and a half apart. i will expect to be greeted in this manner from here on out.  

yesterday, my therapist said she was very, very proud of me and it felt like being given a gold sticker. 

being alive is often painful and difficult but life is also very very good.