confronting pain

March 29, 2020

Well, I myself have always found that if I examine something, it’s less scary. You know, I grew up in the West, and we always had this theory that if you saw – if you kept the snake in your eye line, the snake wasn’t going to bite you. And that’s kind of the way I feel about confronting pain. I want to know where it is.

Joan Didion
Radio interview with Terry Gross, 2nd November 2011

The pain was quite extraordinary. And yet also weirdly welcome and restorative, bringing him news of his aliveness and his caughtness in a story larger than himself.

Jonathan Franzen
Freedom

love always hurts

January 19, 2020

You said, “There’s still time – time to change your mind.”

Remember…?

Your voice was little more than a husky whisper beside my ear. But going back wasn’t an option for me then. What was to happen was fated…inevitable. Like the sunrise or sunset.

I said, “I love you.”

And you said, “Move forward…just a little more…little more. There. I’m going to hurt you now…Hurt you a lot, because I love you. And love always hurts.”

The pain that followed my slow movement against your long body was unlike anything I’d experienced before. Hell fire would touch me less.

Agony.

And, yes, ecstasy too…

You said, “You can cry out if you wish. It’s alright. No one can hear.”

And then that exquisite, excruciating torment eased, slightly. I couldn’t breathe; couldn’t draw breath; but then I could and took short, shallow gulps of air. I realised my mouth was filled with blood where I’d bitten the right side of my cheek and my tongue.

You bent forward to look into my face and smiled. You saw the blood on my lips. Your tongue flicked over my mouth, lasciviously.

“First blood,” you whispered. “Relax for now. It’s going to be a long, long night for you…”

P

sacrificial lamb

November 9, 2019

Once every month he visited the woman who wore a carapace of black rubber and a face-mask. She had a room in her house that she’d transformed years ago into a torture chamber. It was in there she did what she did to him, the things so desperately required to replenish his emptiness. Tied to a solid wooden cross, a sacrificial lamb, his head full of silence broken by the sound of her spikey high heels on the wooden floorboards as she circled him, dragging her shadow behind her like a vast, unappreciated weight. He was all appetite. Soon he’d be filled to overflowing with pain. She laughed and he glimpsed Armageddon in her eyes – So his ordeal began.

Scars

November 3, 2019

We don’t age with years, we age with scars. Scars that reminds us of the things we’ve conquered with fear, with love, and with pain. Scars that reminds us that nothing in this world comes easy, but ultimately everything heals through time.

Juansen Dizon
Aging

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way. You, with all your un-dumb letters, would never write so elementary a phrase as that; perhaps you wouldn’t even feel it. And yet I believe you’ll be sensible of a little gap.  But you’d clothe it in so exquisite a phrase that it would lose a little of its reality. Whereas with me it is quite stark: I miss you even more than I could have believed; and I was prepared to miss you a good deal. So this letter is just really a squeal of pain. It is incredible how essential to me you have become. I suppose you are accustomed to people saying these things. Damn you, spoilt creature; I shan’t make you love me any the more by giving myself away like this — But oh my dear, I can’t be clever and stand-offish with you: I love you too much for that. Too truly. You have no idea how stand-offish I can be with people I don’t love. I have brought it to a fine art. But you have broken down my defences. And I don’t really resent it.

Vita Sackville-West
The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf

Horror

September 12, 2019

Horror cannot be spoken because it is alive; because it is silent and is going forward; it drips into the day and it drips into sleep.
Sorrow-recalling pain.

George Seferis
Last Stop
trans. Rex Warner

Torn

September 6, 2019

…She has never been in pain; her intact delicacy is like that of an apple blossom. She will be torn.

Anne Truitt
Daybook: The Journal of an Artist

Loving me is difficult

September 2, 2019

Loving me is difficult.
Because sometimes
I shed my skin too quickly
Trying to forget what it feels like
To be held by the brown callous palms
Of uncles, friends and strangers.

My new skin never remembers
The coolness of your touch
On the parts of my body where you need maps and lights to navigate safely.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
When it hurts too much to become
I wear masculinity like a cloak
And refuse to leave enough room for you in the spaces between my fingers

I forget the taste of your mouth
And allow bitterness to drip from my lips
The kind of bitterness that tastes like hate

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I ask you not to say “I love you”
Afraid that it will sound a lot like
The first one I ever heard
I will be 8 again, trapped beneath the taste of sweat and disgust.

I forget, that your I love yous
Sound like caresses and taste like nectar.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I package my anger and grief neatly
And hide it in my sternum
Waiting for it to become potent enough to poison you

I haven’t learned how to stop eating my emotions.
Or how to stop throwing them up on your lovely blue dress.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
When you kiss me
I slip marriage into your mouth
And refuse to perform the Heimlich
When it becomes lodged in your throat

I forget that you choose me every day
And choosing me in a wedding dress won’t change a thing.

Loving me is difficult
Because sometimes
I forget to see the world in you

I forget that your pupils are galaxies
And you are wind.

Loving me is difficult
Because…
I am still learning to not pick at my wounds.

Charli Cleland